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KYOTO Union leaders from around the world attending the World Water Forum in Kyoto, expressed their outrage and deep concern today as discussions on how to assure safe, clean water for all were torpedoed by the announcement by US President George Bush that war against Iraq is imminent.

Representatives of Public Services International, who had come to Kyoto to press for urgent global action to strengthen public water services, reject the decision to attack Iraq in the face of international support for continued pressure through the United Nations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“We are outraged that the world can find the resources to wage war yet cannot find the resources to fight thirst, poverty or environmental degradation,” says John Kidd of the British union UNISON, a PSI affiliate. “The death and devastation of innocent Iraqis cannot be justified in the face of the progress made toward disarmament.”

The PSI delegation expressed concern that progress on water issues will be jeopardized as the worlds attention is drawn to war. Participation in this weekends key Ministerial meetings is likely to fall given the Bush announcement.

“It is very difficult to focus on water issues when troops are massing on the brink of war,” says Blanca Tercero of SITRASANAAYS, the water workers union in Honduras. “Its far more than a distraction when you know it could be deadly for thousands of workers and their families.”

“This war is illegal and illegitimate,” says Claude Gnreux of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “It is not the political leaders or the oil company executives who will lose their lives or livelihoods. Its workers, women and children. It is their communities and economies that will be destroyed.”

“The attack on Iraq will destabilize communities around the world, raising insecurity and shifting resources from investment in public services to military spending,” said Victor Chiong, of AGWAAS, the water workers union in Manila. “War not only sets back the goals of this conference, it puts everyones peace and security at risk.”

For further information or to arrange interviews with PSI delegates:
Robert Fox 090 5400 6576
David Boys 090 5402 0433