AMMAN, Jordan -- Poverty, hunger, and public health continue to worsen in Iraq, according to a report released yesterday by Oxfam International, which says that more aid is needed from abroad and calls on the Iraqi government to decentralize the distribution of food and medical supplies.
The report, based on a compendium of research from the United Nations, the Iraqi government, and nonprofit organizations Oxfam works with or finances, offers little original data. But it provides one of the most comprehensive pictures to date of the human crisis within Iraq and what it describes as a slow-motion response from Iraq's government, the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.
The report states that roughly 4 million Iraqis, many of them children, are in dire need of food aid; that 70 percent of the country lacks access to adequate water supplies, up from 50 percent in 2003; and that 90 percent of the country's hospitals lack basic medical and surgical supplies.
One survey cited in the report, completed in May by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, found that 43 percent of Iraqis live in "absolute poverty," earning less than $1 a day.
Unemployment and hunger are particularly acute among the estimated 2 million people displaced from their homes by violence, many of whom are jobless, homeless, and largely left on their own.
The solutions proposed by Oxfam, an international aid organization that opposed the American invasion and supports groups in Iraq from an office in Amman, focus on Iraqi policy and international financing.
The report calls on Iraq to expand and decentralize its distribution of food rations and emergency cash payments to widows.
Oxfam also called on countries without troops in Iraq to send more money for aid.