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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 13:24 GMT
Aid agency explains pull-out
One of the last remaining international aid agencies operating in Iraq, World Vision, has announced that it is pulling out.

Tim Costello, World Vision Australia's chief executive, explains to the BBC World Service's World Today programme why they feel the security risks are now too great.


A disabled Iraqi boy holding up a banner in support of Margaret Hassan
Iraqis will suffer from the pull-out of aid organisations
Well the reasons have to do with the deteriorating security with the obscene and tragic death of Margaret Hassan.

We have realised that you can't have 24-hour security guards and even now humanitarian agencies like ours, like Care, even the Red Cross with its studied neutrality for 150 years, are being targeted.

This is a whole new face of both danger and violence. Iraq has just become too dangerous and we aren't protected or regarded with the neutrality that aid agencies once enjoyed.

Some weeks ago, one of our Iraqi staff died - we're not exactly clear on whether it's because of being involved with a western aid agency or some other subtext.

'Barbarism'

We decided really on an indefinite suspension of work then and at the request of Care, didn't announce it because it would only compromise their attempts to try and get Margaret Hassan free and might embolden the kidnappers who were holding her.

Our work has been in Mosul up in the north where the insurgency of course is breaking out after the battle of Falluja.

It is the Iraqis who are being left bereft and are suffering and it's tragic

So that situation just makes it impossible even for the heroic people who are our workers and other aid agency workers who have always been prepared to risk their own lives because they love the people and they're so committed to helping.

We've helped over 600,000 people, most of them children actually, since we began in April 2003. So you can see why this decision is one that we've made with deeply heavy hearts.

This is the tragic consequence of the Iraq story and we don't take a political stand on whether coalition of the willing should be there. We'll go wherever there is a humanitarian need.

But when humanitarian agencies, as we've seen in Margaret Hassan's kidnapping and apparent death, are targeted, then it's a very new form of danger, of barbarism, I guess.

It's as if we've lost all the protection of the Geneva Protocols and all that agreement that we don't target humanitarian organisations which will respond to either side.

Ideological battles, now military battles have become just so intense and too hot for people.

It is the Iraqis who are being left bereft and are suffering and it's tragic.



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