Red Cross: Iraq is Disastrous and Getting Worse


Millions of Iraqis are in a "disastrous" situation that is getting worse, with mothers appealing for someone to pick up the bodies on the street so their children will be spared the horror of looking at them on their way to school, the international Red Cross said Wednesday.

Thousands of bodies lie unclaimed in mortuaries, with family members either unaware that they are there or too afraid to recover them, according to Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the neutral agency's director of operations.

Medical professionals also have been fleeing the country after cases where their colleagues were killed or abducted, the group said in a 13-page report. "Hospitals and other key services are desperately short of staff," Kraehenbuehl said. "According to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, more than half the doctors are said to have already left the country."

The report, "Civilians without Protection: The Ever-Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq," was produced over the past two to three weeks, a spokesman said well after the stepped-up American-led military operations in the capital began Feb. 14.

The report went beyond the International Committee of the Red Cross' usual appeals for all sides to protect civilians as required by the Geneva Conventions. It added photographs and quotes from the civilians to describe the situation.


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