UNITED NATIONS — U.N. humanitarian agencies have asked the United States, Japan and European nations for $37.4 million to prepare for a potential humanitarian crisis in Iraq after a war with the U.S., U.N. officials said Friday.
The World Food Program, U.N. Children's Fund, World Health Organization and seven other agencies need the money to buy food, medicine and tents and to transport supplies to nations bordering Iraq, Stephanie Bunker, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in an interview.
The agencies made the request at a Dec. 13 meeting in Geneva, and no nation has yet contributed money, Bunker said. Unlike other humanitarian appeals, this request hasn't been publicized because the U.N. doesn't want to appear to be anticipating war, Bunker said.
The amount that would be needed in the aftermath of a war would be far larger than $37.4 million, which Bunker said was only for preparations that began quietly about five months ago. No cost estimate for a postwar humanitarian crisis has been calculated, she said.
"The U.N. hopes there won't be a new humanitarian crisis, that Iraq will comply with U.N. resolutions and none of this will be necessary," UNICEF spokesman Alfred Ironside said. "But at the same time, we have to be prepared."