Aid agencies said yesterday that military action in Iraq could create up to three million refugees and leave nearly two thirds of the population facing starvation.
The prediction was made by a coalition of charities including Christian Aid.
They also suggest that war without the backing of a United Nations resolution would significantly worsen the problem by making it difficult for UN humanitarian agencies to obtain the resources to operate.
The charities said conflict in Iraq could internally displace one million Iraqis and lead to as many as two million leaving the country.
Over the last decade, an estimated 4 million Iraqis have already left the country because of teh effect of UN sanctions, Saddam's regime and economic hardship.
The charities also warned that war could leave more than 60 per cent of the population on the brink of starvation as power supplies and transport routes were hit, disrupting
the flow of food aid to millions of people.