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UN refugee agency sends urgent supplies to Iraqis displaced by Turkish shelling

UN refugee agency sends urgent supplies to Iraqis displaced by Turkish shelling

Voicing deep concern at the displacement in northern Iraq caused by ongoing shelling by Turkey, the United Nations refugee agency has dispatched urgent supplies, including blankets and stoves, for distribution today to more than 1,800 people who fled their homes over the weekend in two districts up to 100 kilometres inside the country.

“Some families are reported leaving their homes as they fear their villages might be shelled,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Astrid van Genderen Stort told a news briefing in Geneva.

“The displaced families, who have left everything behind in their villages, have moved in with relatives or friends. Winter has set in and living conditions are very harsh, particularly for host families which now have to care for additional people,” she said, noting that many say they cannot afford to pay monthly rents of $200 to $300 for alternative accommodation. “They are concerned about the ongoing attacks as they fear they cannot stay much longer with their host families.”

Last weekend 300 families, or more than 1,800 people, fled their homes in the Sangasar sub-district of Sulaymaniah Governorate and from Doli Shahidan in Erbil Governorate, 100 kilometres inside Iraq, after they said 10 villages had been affected by the shelling.

“One woman was reported killed and several people injured. Over 200 head of livestock have also been killed,” Ms. van Genderen Stort said of the shelling which, according to a village head, destroyed six bridges which connect several villages as well as a school. “We were told families have each left one member behind in the affected villages as they could not leave their livestock untended.”

Yesterday, UNHCR with its partners on the ground quickly dispatched non-food items such as blankets, mattresses, stoves, lanterns, jerry cans, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and soap to Sulaymaniah and Erbil after being asked by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to provide additional help. The items were being distributed to needy families today. There is also an urgent need for kerosene which will be provided by the KRG.

A total of 2.4 million people are displaced within Iraq as a result of the fighting since the United States-led invasion of 2003, while an additional 2.2 million have fled to neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan.