Oxfam has been forced to scale down humanitarian work in Iraq due to increasing tensions between the US and Iran, the charity has said.
According to the NGO’s Iraq Director, Andres Gonzales Rodriquez, heightened security concerns and travel difficulties have meant it has been difficult for the charity to undertake its aid operations.
Gonzales Rodriguez said: “We have had to suspend work in three locations where we were delivering cash aid to people in need of help.”
He added that, if this state of affairs continues “for a few weeks more,” 100,000 of the “most vulnerable people” in the country will be affected.
A number Oxfam staff have been forced to relocate, with some offices temporarily closed, due to their proximity to US military bases.
Oxfam works in five regions in Iraq, specialising in water and sanitation, emergency food, gender programs and protection work. Oxfam and its partners reach over a million people in the country with this aid.
But Oxfam’s work is being hampered due to an escalating conflict between the US and Iran, which started when Donald Trump commissioned an airstrike against Iran’s leading military general, Qassem Soleimani, last Friday.
Responding in kind, Iran launched an attack on a US military base in Iraq this morning.
Noah Gottschalk, Humanitarian Policy Lead for Oxfam America, added: “We urge the US, Iran and all parties across the region to show restraint, to respect humanitarian law and allow unfettered humanitarian access to those in need, regardless of perceived affiliations. Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail and the work of de-escalation to begin.”
With Donald Trump in charge of the US military, that unfortunately seems highly unlikely.