UN predicts new displacements in northern Iraq

UN predicts new displacements in northern Iraq

Citing intensified fighting, the United Nations today predicted fresh movements of civilians leaving their homes in the northern part of Iraq.

"It is likely there will be new displacements of people in the North," David Wimhurst, the spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, told reporters in Amman. "The return to urban areas has slowed and the people who live in Dohuk are once again leaving the city."

"This displacement follows increased military activities in the area by American, Iraqi and Kurdish forces," he added.

Meanwhile, UN relief agencies continued their efforts to assist the people of Iraq. The World Health Organization (WHO) has prepositioned supplies to deal with hundreds of cases of cholera and trauma. The health kits, now in Amman, "will be shipped to Iraq as soon as the situation allows," said agency spokesman Fadela Chaib, who also voiced concern about "worsening hygiene conditions that can favor the spread of communicable diseases" in Iraq.

In a separate development, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Toepfer, warned that the black smoke over Baghdad coming from burning oil trenches and fires contains dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to human health and the environment. The agency is calling for efforts to monitor the potential impact of this smoke as soon feasibly possible.

"UNEP believes that rapid action to repair environmental damage can play an important role in supporting humanitarian relief efforts," said agency spokesman Michael Williams.