Christian relief groups map out a strategy to bring postwar aid to the Persian Gulf—but at what cost to the rest of the world?

At the regular meeting of the “Interaction Gulf Coordinating Committee” in Washington last month, grim faces contradicted the euphoria much of the United States was feeling over news that the Persian Gulf War was over. The committee, composed of representatives of government agencies, humanitarian groups, and private volunteer organizations, had been meeting weekly since January 13 to plan a comprehensive postwar relief strategy. “The war is over,” committee cochair Tom Getman of World Vision told the group. “But it looks like our work has just begun.”

Christian relief agencies have been taking a lead role in the strategy sessions, and many are now attempting to carve out their own part in the response. At the same time, however, many groups are voicing frustration that in the midst of worldwide attention to the Gulf region, pressing needs in other areas, particularly the Horn of Africa, are being ignored.

Instability In Iraq

Six months of international trade embargo and nearly six weeks of allied air raids have created a serious public-health crisis in Iraq, according to international relief officials. Among the top immediate concerns are food shortages, lack of electricity to store and preserve food, and severe damage to water purification and sewage systems. Malnutrition and disease are running unchecked, said Ezio Murzi, the United Nations Children’s Fund representative.

The efforts of most relief groups have been hampered by the continuing instability within Iraq. Permission from Iraqi authorities has been difficult to obtain; often it has been unclear ...

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