UPI | July 9, 2008

BAGHDAD — Internally displaced Iraqis, especially women and children, face a dire humanitarian situation, the head of the International Red Cross in Iraq said.

In an interview with the International Rescue Committee, Aidan Goldsmith, who heads the relief effort in Iraq, said the people of Iraq need more help than ever.

“It would not be a stretch to describe the situation for ordinary Iraqis as dire, and as time goes on, the circumstances are not improving,” he said.

He categorized women and children as the most vulnerable of the Iraqi people, saying the educational and health facilities in Iraq are in decline, putting the social climate in a state of despair.

Many families in Iraq are afraid to send their children to schools. Children who do attend classes must attend in shifts, considering the lack of classroom capacity.

“We’re really afraid that there’s going to be a generation of children who missed out on primary and secondary education. That’s going to have a major impact on Iraq’s future recovery,” he said.

Schools in northern Iraq are using fast-track programs to bring students up to speed, and Red Cross officials have assisted in the construction of new facilities in some of the Kurdish regions in northern Iraq to alleviate the sagging infrastructure, he said.

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