Despite insecurity and the continuous movement of people, the United Nations said today it has reached more than one million people uprooted by violence across Iraq with food assistance, while also noting a sharp increase in refugees fleeing into neighbouring Jordan and Turkey.
In Jordan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has witnessed a sharp increase in Iraqi refugees in recent weeks with 60 per cent of them citing fears of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as the reason for their flight.
In August and September, on average, 120 Iraqis per day have registered with UNHCR in Jordan, up from 65 per day in June and July and just 30 per day in the first five months of 2014.
“Refugees report their homes being burned, threat of forced conversion to Islam, fears of forced marriage, kidnapping and public threats,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
So far this year, 10,644 Iraqi refugees have registered with UNHCR in Jordan, with 1,383 registering in August alone – the highest monthly tally of new registrations since 2007. In Turkey, some 103,000 Iraqi refugees have come forward to be registered by UNHCR or its partners, including 65,000 since June 2014 when ISIL forces took over areas of northern Iraq.
Also today, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that despite the fact that displaced people are on the move and the ongoing fighting further complicates access, the agency has provided food to more than one million people in 113 of Iraq’s 18 governorates.
“With the help of our partners, we managed to scale up and expand our assistance to additional areas reaching displaced families who fled with nothing but their lives and who were previously inaccessible,” said Jane Pearce, WFP Country Director in Iraq.
Around 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced by the conflict since mid-June. WFP noted that the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate because of the fighting and many Iraqis are living in precarious conditions without access to food, water or shelter. Some live under bridges or by the side of roads while others live in camps or find shelter in unfinished buildings.
WFP plans to continue to expand its food operation to assist 1.2 million displaced people by the end of the year. The majority of the one million people assisted by WFP so far received food parcels containing essential items such as rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, lentils, pasta, and salt. Each parcel feeds a family of five for one month.
The agency also provided emergency ready-to-eat rations that include canned food for those still on the move with no access to cooking facilities.