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Thursday, April 17, 2003

Urgent humanitarian appeal

Queen Rania calls for immediate humanitarian assistance to Iraq

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) In an open letter to The Times Newspaper in London, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah made an urgent appeal to the coalition forces to provide secure access for humanitarian workers to enter Iraq and for casualties to be immediately evacuated.

Calling on the forces to establish humanitarian air and land corridors to take badly injured people for treatment in Jordan and elsewhere, Queen Rania spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi children, and expressed the urgent need to take immediate action to eliminate this suffering.

Queen Rania spoke of 12-year-old Ali Ismail Abbas, who, after losing both his arms when a bomb fell on his home, has become “the face of Iraq’s human suffering-the face of war- painfully witnessed in some cases in gruesome detail by so many around the world”.

Speaking on behalf of many other children who are in urgent need of medical attention, but whose voices have not yet been heard, Queen Rania said, “it is no exaggeration to say that every minute does count”.

Since before the war, Queen Rania has been working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Amman, to ensure that they are “ready to get their work underway the moment conditions are appropriate for them to start doing what they do best- saving lives and building communities”.

Queen Rania, who is an international leader in the Global Movement for Children, has also been working to ensure that Iraqi children overcome the trauma of war.

She confirmed her readiness to undertake immediate and practical steps to support early childhood development over the long-term and to ensure that after so many years of warfare, sanctions, and strife, Iraqi children receive the best possible start to life.

“As someone who has been working with these NGOs over the past few months and who has been thinking of ways to avoid civilian casualties during the war and of means to ensure that Iraqis get as much humanitarian help as possible after hostilities end, today, more than ever, I feel an immense sense of urgency.

It is no exaggeration to say that every minute does count. The more concerted our efforts are, the more lives we can save and the more suffering we can spare. No population deserves such suffering, especially knowing that something can be done if we move fast.

I am certain that the coalition forces understand the importance and urgency of the need for humanitarian workers to go in and do their job.

I urge them to make it their top priority to create the conditions for us to commence our urgently needed work of saving lives.” Jordan, along with many other nations and organizations, has already taken major steps to assist in the humanitarian efforts.

A fully equipped field hospital has been prepared and will soon enter Iraq. Jordanian hospitals have set aside beds and facilities to treat patients from Iraq, and His Majesty King Abdullah and Queen Rania have launched a nationwide blood donation campaign, to which Jordanians have responded warmly.

On Wednesday, at least 60 trucks carrying flour and medical supplies left Jordan to Iraq, carrying 88 tons of medicine donated by Jordan’s Health Ministry.