Clean drinking water, to avoid a serious outbreak of cholera and typhoid, is an immediate need in Iraq, reports a Hungarian Baptist coordinating global relief efforts in conjunction with Baptist World Aid.

Bela Szilagyi of Hungarian Baptist Aid went to Amman, Jordan, for a series of planning sessions. In response to his report, the Baptist World Alliance’s relief-and-development arm planned to distribute water-purification tablets and provide new water-purification units.

Other priorities are supplies for schools and orphanages, as well as hygiene kits.

Jordanian Baptist leader Fawaz Ameish told Szilagyi that Baptists are working with the Jordanian Evangelical Committee for Relief and Development to care for “third-country nationals” originally from Somalia and Sudan who have crossed the border from Iraq into Jordan. He said Jordanian Baptists want to do more but lack funds.

A Hungarian journalist accompanied Szilagyi to Amman and then journeyed into Baghdad. “There is little safe water, and the children of the orphanages and institutions for handicapped children are dispersed,” the journalist reported.

The Baptist World Alliance, based in Falls Church, Va., is collecting donations from around the world for a fund designated BWAid’s Iraq / Middle East Appeal.

“For the people of Iraq, despite a great deal of suffering, we can be thankful that the strife of war did not go on any longer,” said BWAid director Paul Montacute. “However, the needs are still enormous, and we have the opportunity of helping local Christians to care for all, irrespective of their race, creed or nationality; of sharing unconditional love with the people of Iraq.”

The BWA, a fellowship of 206 Baptist unions and conventions around the world, has already sent $10,000 for relief work among Iraqi refugees, with $5,000 going to the Jordan Baptist Convention and $5,000 to a network of churches in the Middle East.

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