VOLUNTEERS FROM PALMA READY TO HELP REFUGEES

MEMBERS of the Red Cross and Media Luna Roja organisation in Majorca are ready to de deployed to Iraq within 24 hours if war breaks out.
The president of the International Federation of affiliated Red Cross organisations, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, said in Palma yesterday more Red Cross members are being put into Iraq and neighbouring countries as their presence is stepped up to cope with the wounded and the estimated one million people who will flee Iraq if the allies attack Iraq. Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, in the Majorcan capital to open a new day care centre, said that the international aid agency is preparing for an “avalanche” of refugees, the majority of which will head for Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Iran. “We're stock piling humanitarian aid and training our volunteers, preparing them for the various and extreme situations they find themselves in,” he said. Aid organisations, in particular Red Cross Spain, are on “pre-alert,” ready to respond within 24 hours to an attack on Iraq. In Spain, there are 170 volunteers, including those in the Balearics, on “24-hour notice.” “We can have them on the ground in under 24-hours,” Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro, stressed. The Red Cross has been working on the ground in Iraq for many years with the United Nations, so is well aware of the problems and that much of the country is already in need of humanitarian aid. “The problem is that an attack and possible further sanctions will harm the poor and the vulnerable most,” he said. However, Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro avoided making any comments on the war, all he said is that “governments have been reminded that they have to respect international law.” He said that the Red Cross believes and stands for “defending peace and international understanding,” while the organisation's principal aim is to guarantee access and humanitarian aid to victims. Charities and non-government organisations across the Balearics and Spain are all helping to gather provisions and materials for the refugees expected to flood out of Iraq into countries which do not have the infrastructure or resources to cope with such a sudden influx of people. Religious charity, Caritas España, which yesterday repeated its opposition to the war, is drawing up plans to transform churches across Iraq into first aid and refugee care centres while it too is stock piling food and equipment at various points across Spain which can be shipped out at a moment's notice.

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