Press Release

United Nations Health Sector Partners Launch Appeal to Meet Health Needs of Iraqis Displaced in Neighbouring Countries

18 September 2007

GENEVA — Today, United Nations health sector partners, including UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) appealed for $84.8 million to assist an estimated 2.2 million Iraqis who have fled the ongoing violence and instability in Iraq to neighbouring countries. The funds are required to support host governments in meeting the health and nutrition needs of the displaced populations until the end of next year.

The appeal emphasizes the basic health needs of displaced Iraqis in neighbouring countries, particularly Syria and Jordan that host an estimated 1.5 million and 750,000 Iraqis respectively. The large numbers of people who have arrived over the past year put an enormous strain on the already overstretched public services and pose major challenges to host governments and local and international organizations.

In Syria alone, hundreds of Iraqi amputees need prostheses and thousands of cancer patients and trauma victims need specialized treatment. Access to hospital care is limited. Gaps have arisen in the national health information and disease surveillance systems, which increase the risk of vaccine preventable diseases. The deteriorating purchasing power of Iraqis may also lead to rising malnutrition rates. The displaced Iraqi population also need reproductive and child health services.

The health needs of more than two million displaced Iraqis should not be ignored. Many are survivors of violence and have serious medical conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi displaced children need to keep on track with their vaccination programme. This requires an enormous coordinated effort with governments, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, as well as significant financial support from the international community.

The joint appeal aims to improve access to health care, address malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and strengthen information and surveillance systems and coordination. It was developed as a result of the Common Action Framework concluded at the ministerial consultation convened by WHO in Damascus on 29-30 July.

Over the past year, the countries in the region have been very generous in keeping their borders open and have made a very substantial contribution to the health and nutrition needs of the displaced Iraqis. But the burden on their health systems has become overwhelming and requires immediate and urgent support from the international community.

The appeal can be found at:


Contact Information:

Dr Daniel Lopez-Acuna, Health Action in Crises; Tel: +41 22 791 58 68; Mob: +41 79 475 55 57; E-mail:

Fadéla Chaib, Department of Communications; Tel: +41 22 791 32 28; Mob: +41 79 475 55 56; E-mail:

Astrid van Genderen Stort, Senior Public Information officer; Tel: +41 22 739 8364; Mob: +41 79 217 3172; Email:

Véronique Taveau, Spokesperson Geneva, Tel: +41 22 909 5716; Mob: +41 79 216 9401; Email:

Patrick McCormick Media Officer, New York +1212 3267426; Email:

David Delvecchio, UNFPA New York: Tel: +1 212 2974975 Email:

Omar Gharzeddine, UNFPA New York: Tel: +1 212 297 5028, Email:

Christiane Berthiaume, Senior Public Affairs Officer: Tel: +41.22.917.8564; Mob: +;

Barry Came, Information Officer; Email:

All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features, as well as other information on this subject, can be obtained on the WHO Internet home page: .

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