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Iraq aid workers braced for war

Caritas Iraq is gearing up to help the thousands of Iraqi civilians who may be caught up in any conflict in Iraq.

It has made careful preparations for its Well Baby clinics to operate as first aid centres in the event of bombing. Doctors, staff and volunteers have received training from military doctors experienced in dealing with war injuries and the centres have been equipped with medical supplies and ambulances.

Maura O'Donohue, Emergencies Officer at the British Caritas organisation CAFOD, who has been working closely with Caritas Iraq, said: "Preparing in this way is very important. We are of course hoping and praying that war will be averted but at the same time we need to help our partners prepare in case the worst happens.

"The training, equipment and supplies will allow Caritas Iraq to offer life-saving care to anyone caught up in any possible conflict. The moderately injured would be taken care of at the centres and then taken home. While the severely wounded would be given life saving first aid to stabilise their condition before being transferred to hospital."

Caritas Iraq operates from Amman in Jordan and its liaison officer, Faiq Bourachi, visited the centres in Baghdad 10 days ago.

Mr Bourachi, said: "It is a very frightening time for the people the uncertainty they are living under makes life very difficult. They don't know what is going to happen from one day to the next. It is psychological warfare of the worst kind. They don't know what to expect or when. Will bombs start dropping or will an invasion take place? It has all gone on too long and people are just hoping and praying for it all to be over.

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25 Feb 2003