IOCC Aids Iraqi Families in Conflict-Ridden Sadr City

Iraqi girls walk away with a sack of food rations being handed out in the impoverished Sadr City district of eastern Baghdad. (photo: Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty Images)

Baltimore, MD (July 25, 2008) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the Baltimore-based humanitarian aid organization, announces a new grant that will provide food and emergency supplies to vulnerable families living in Sadr City, one of the poorest and most densely populated districts of Baghdad. The approximately $400,000 grant, awarded to IOCC by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will assist approximately 2,400 vulnerable families in this predominantly Shiite area, the site of continuous heavy fighting between insurgents and multi-national forces.

The aim of IOCC’s latest program to assist Iraqis affected by the war is to provide families with high protein foods to reduce malnutrition rates as well as hygiene supplies for at least three months. One in four children under five years of age in Iraq is chronically malnourished.

The residents of Sadr City who will benefit from the distribution include low income families, single-headed households, orphans, the elderly, invalids, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“The effects of war and the general economic slowdown exacerbated by 12 years of economic sanctions have adversely affected Iraq’s food security,” says George Antoun, IOCC’s Regional Director. More than 60% of Iraqi families are entirely dependent on the government’s food ration program, however the Iraqi government has announced plans to end the program for some citizens this year.

IOCC has previously worked in Sadr City and will cooperate with local authorities in the distribution. IOCC’s most recent aid to Iraq included a distribution of food and hygiene supplies in early 2008 to 3,000 families living in Baghdad and Mosul.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $275 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world. IOCC is a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.