Behind the Headlines

The rebuilding of Iraq after the war and 12 years of sanctions will
require large-scale humanitarian relief. The UK government has
already set aside £300m for organisations such as Oxfam,
Unicef and Save the Children to provide food and shelter, though
much of it will not be allocated until there is a UN mandate for

In terms of social care, the implications still have to be
quantified. At the British Association of Social Workers’ annual
conference in Cardiff recently members voiced opposition to the
war. Ruth Stark, BASW’s professional officer for Scotland, said it
was important to “focus on what happens afterwards and ensure
reconstruction is done in the spirit of working with the Iraqi
people and not dominated by the US or UK governments.”

David Jones, European vice-president of the International
Federation of Social Workers, said the organisation would lobby to
ensure that social work principles informed the reconstruction
programme. Whether British social care professionals will be called
on to play a prominent role has yet to be decided.

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“The idea that social work principles should inform the
reconstruction of Iraq is another example of the way in which we
try to impose our values, culture and structures on other
societies. It is arrogant to assume that social work principles,
devised and developed in our cultural norms, are necessarily
appropriate for the people of Iraq. There is a major job to be done
in the UK to re-establish and revitalise social work. We need to
develop a consensus about what social work principles mean to us
before we start to try to export them to other countries.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“Despite the horrors of the devastation faced by so many of Iraq’s
people, the longer-term aid programme must be considered,
respectful and multinational. It would be tragic for the UK to
leave itself open to further accusations of imperialism. Only the
UN should work with the Iraqis to develop a workable democracy, but
non-governmental organisations and social workers have much to
contribute to the support of traumatised families and children,
many of them orphaned or separated from loved ones. The lead in
this work must come from agencies such as Unicef which have so much
relevant experience.”

Phil Frampton, national chairperson, Care Leavers
“The people of Iraq have suffered terribly under another
dictatorial regime that the West built up, then tore apart. Now it
is time for the new challenge: the voice of the Iraqi people. The
best thing that UK social care workers and the IFSW can do for
social care in Iraq, at present, is to give every assistance to
their Iraqi colleagues in building strong, independent trade

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth

“If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then peace
may simply prove the next phase of the war in Iraq. Western social
care agencies must resist being the second wave of the invasion
that has as its stated goal establishing the sort of democracy that
ensures ‘free trade’ – and we all know what that means. Rebuilding
Iraq can only happen through Iraqis and their neighbours under the
auspices of the UN.”

Bob Hudson, principal research fellow, Nuffield Institute
for Health, University of Leeds

“Sadly, the realpolitik is that this war is being waged by
the US in pursuit of its own narrow interests, and this will shape
the post-war reconstruction. It is already clear that US companies
– not the UN – will scoop all the contracts for schools and
hospitals, and social care will simply be bundled in with this.
Even where there is subcontracting to others, social care agencies
will surely feel uncomfortable about providing support under the
aegis of the stars and stripes.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.