United Nations relief agencies today announced the launch of a national hotline in Iraq to respond to the urgent food, medical and shelter needs of people displaced by the fighting now numbering 3.2 million and scattered in over 3,000 hard-to-reach locations across the war-ravaged country.
“More than 3.2 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the beginning of 2014 and we are simply not able to reach everyone due to the sheer size of the crisis,” Bruno Geddo, the representative for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iraq, said a joint announcement released today in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
“People continue to be on the move and many more are being displaced as we speak,” said Mr. Geddo. “While the call centre will help identify and respond to the most urgent needs of the displaced, it will also ensure that up-to-date information is available to them, so that they can access the assistance and services they require.”
“This is particularly important for displaced people living outside formal camps and settlements, who may otherwise not be easy to reach to help them meet their needs and harness their resources,” he said.
According to UNHCR, the conflict in Iraq has resulted in a displacement crisis of an unprecedented scale with more than 3.2 million people have been forced into displacement since January 2014 alone.
“People are scattered in over 3,000 locations across the country,” the agency said.
The hotline is designed so that those forced to leave their homes because of the fighting, as well as affected communities, will be able to seek information about humanitarian aid, request assistance, and provide confidential feedback on the humanitarian agencies’ services and outreach activities.
Jane Pearce, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Director for Iraq, said “first and foremost, the call centre serves as a quick and easy way for IDPs [internally displaced persons] to find out about how the humanitarian community can help.”
“But more importantly, it offers us a chance to connect to, and better understand, the people we serve,” Ms. Pearce said.
Following a successful pilot in July 2015 in Erbil Governorate, the information centre is now operational across Iraq and can be reached via any Iraqi mobile phone by dialling 6999.
The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting implementation of its partners' peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world, established and operates the information centre through the financial contributions of UNHCR, WFP, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.