‘Many people have reached the end on the line in Iraq,’ warns senior UN relief official

25 September 2015

Ten million Iraqis, or a quarter of the population, are going to need humanitarian aid by year’s end amid “dramatically” worsening conditions that are forcing many people to leave their homeland because they no longer see a future inside their country, a senior UN relief official said today.

“We are seeing a gradual increase in departures from Iraq,” Dominique Bartsch, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, told reporters in Geneva. “Many people have reached the end on the line. They no longer have the possibility to support themselves. Many will say that the only future is outside of Iraq.”

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that its partners and local authorities have opened two new camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baghdad province, providing shelter to close to 3,500 Iraqis who have fled Anbar province due to recent fighting.

“The humanitarian situation is worsening dramatically as the crisis in Iraq has accelerated since last year, when militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] took over large portions of Iraq," Mr. Bartsch said.

Since January 2014, 3.2 million people in Iraq have fled their homes in multiple waves of internal displacement and already now, as estimated 8.6 million need humanitarian support. Mr. Bartsch said an anticipated 10 million Iraqis would need some sort of humanitarian assistance by the end of the year, representing more than a quarter of the population.

The UN refugee agency was anticipating a much larger flow of internally displaced persons in Iraq, as Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, had been taken by ISIL and more fighting was expected.

The humanitarian official warned that most basic services had to be reduced because of lack of funding, and that children had now been out of school for more than a year, leading families to leave for Europe. In addition, he also feared that a recently declared cholera outbreak could very quickly spread under the current conditions in Iraq.

“Preventing further displacement out of Iraq will require a combination of minimum humanitarian assistance, but also more sustained support to, for example education and rebuilding livelihoods,” Mr. Bartsch said.

Mr. Bartsch also called attention to the situation of more than one million Kurdish internally displaced persons in Iraq who had no perspective and inadequate humanitarian support.

The Humanitarian Response Plan requesting some $500 million is only 40 per cent funded.


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