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Food, medicine convoys enter Iraq

An Iraqi girl holds fresh drinking water distributed by Britain's forces in a village west of Basra, Iraq.
An Iraqi girl holds fresh drinking water distributed by British forces in a village west of Basra, Iraq.

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AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- A convoy carrying 850 metric tons of flour and another hauling medical supplies entered Iraq in an effort to help Iraq's wounded and hungry, international relief agencies said Sunday.

David Wimhurst, spokesman for the United Nations' Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that while the food supply in the southern Iraqi town of Umm Qasr appears to be normal, the city's hospital is receiving 200 to 300 patients per week.

Wimhurst said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Saturday sent its first cross-line convoy, carrying medical supplies, to hospitals in the nearby town of Basra. But ICRC teams can no longer access the towns of Karbala, Nasiriya, Najaf and Hillah, and a convoy carrying medical supplies for hospital in Hillah had to be canceled, he said.

"The ICRC considers the situation in the capital is near critical, with hardly any movement on the streets," Wimhurst added.

Marteen Roest, a spokesman for the World Food Programme, said that agency already has sent a major convoy into Iraq. Carrying 850 metric tons of wheat flour, the trucks crossed the border from Turkey in what was called a "test run" of the feasibility of that corridor.

The agency spokesman, Fadela Chaib, said "health workers are overwhelmed by injured and routine work is disrupted."

But beyond meeting the immediate needs of clothing, food, water and medicine, relief program workers were concerned about how the fallout of the war will affect Iraqi civilians.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is calling for an assessment of bombed sites containing weapons with depleted uranium.

"An early study in Iraq could either lay these fears to rest or confirm that there are indeed potential risks, which could then be addressed through immediate action," UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.

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