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Iraq humanitarian situation worries UN

The UN has said that attacks on civilian installations are a "serious breach" of international humanitarian laws.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2003 13:47 IST

Concerned over reports of an air strike on a Baghdad market that resulted in heavy casualties and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq, the United Nations has said that attacks on civilian installations are a "serious breach" of international humanitarian laws.

"The civilian population of Iraq has no part in this conflict and must be protected from its consequences at all costs. Attacks on civilian installations are a serious breach of humanitarian international laws," UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, said.

Lopes da Silva's Office said the emergency room at Abougreb hospital in Baghdad was full, and Premiere Urgence, a French NGO with 60 staff in the city, was extending it by erecting tents for overflow of patients. It also said the evaluations of Baghdad hospitals by International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) had been slowed down due to heavy bombing.

Joining in the concern, the World Health Organisation said civilian injuries inevitably increased the pressure on already-stretched hospitals and other health infrastructure.

WHO also expressed concern over fierce fighting in Iraq's second largest city of Basra, where at least half the civilian population of 1.7 million still lacked access to safe, clean drinking water. Many were also without electricity.

"In these circumstances, it is hard to keep food safe and to maintain hygiene," WHO spokesperson Fadela Chiab said.

"Levels of disease - especially among children - will be rising daily. The public health staff who work in WHO are increasingly concerned. Dysentery and typhoid are serious risks, and they will have a serious impact."

First Published: Mar 27, 2003 13:47 IST