Situation ‘very worrying’ for displaced families from Iraq’s Anbar province, UN officials warn

25 February 2015 | Press Releases

Iraq, Anbar Province, 24 February 2015 – The United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Lise Grande, along with Neill Wright, the country’s UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative, today visited Iraqi families recently displaced from Al Baghdadi district in the western province of Anbar.

Deputy Special Representative, Lise Grande (second right), and Neill Wright (right), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative in Iraq, examine humanitarian aid for families recently displaced from Al Baghdadi district in the western province of Anbar. Photo: UNAMI

Deputy Special Representative, Lise Grande (second right), and Neill Wright (right), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative in Iraq, examine humanitarian aid for families recently displaced from Al Baghdadi district in the western province of Anbar. Photo: UNAMI

“The situation facing these families is very worrying. They have been under siege for days and are highly vulnerable. We’re coordinating closely with the Government to help them,” Ms. Grande who is also the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq said in a statement.Approximately 200 families have already been evacuated from Mojama’a Al-Hay Al- Sakani near Ain Al-Asad Air Base after the Iraqi Security forces broke the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) siege of the area.

Officials say that the distribution of emergency relief items has started and will continue to take place in the coming days to ensure that all those staying with family members and friends, in various neighbourhoods of Baghdad receive the help they need. According to initial assessments, 65 per cent of those displaced are women.

Airlifts of the most vulnerable families have also been carried out by Iraqi Government authorities to Baghdad. The evacuated families have reportedly been living under siege, with limited access to clean water, food or medicines. Five children are reported to have died as a result of the dire conditions suffered by residents of the city.

“UNHCR and its partners will continue to assess the needs of these newly-displaced families to ensure that their many vulnerabilities are addressed; including the need for psycho-social counselling, legal assistance, family kits, and cash assistance for the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Wright.

Across central Iraq, the internal displacement of Iraqi citizens continues, often in areas where aid agencies have limited access. The ongoing conflict in the Anbar Governorate is causing fresh displacement near the cities of Al Baghdadi, Haditha, Ramadi and Fallujah. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in these areas are reported to be in urgent need of fuel, food and medicine, with growing shortages of basic food items and prices spiralling.

While commending international donors for their contribution to address humanitarian needs, Ms. Grande and Mr. Wright emphasized that as the conflict continues, and new waves of displacement occur, more funding is be urgently needed to respond in the coming months.

As it stands now, 2.25 million Iraqis are estimated to have been displaced since January 2014. Over 380,000 are currently displaced within the Anbar Governorate.