Iraq Faces Growing Displacement as Anbar Conflict Escalates
The number of people displaced by escalating conflict in Iraq’s Anbar province between government forces and Sunni-backed rebels has risen to over 400,000, many of whom are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Of the 67,577 families forced to flee their homes, 50,992 families are still in Anbar. Another 16,655 have left for other provinces. These include 558 in Karbala, 106 in Babylon, 2,879 in Baghdad, 58 in Najaf, 26 in Qadissiya, 41 in Diyala, 6,400 in Salah-Al-Din, 1,200 in Kirkuk, 5,202 in Kurdistan, 179 in Ninewa, and six in Basra, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
While up to now the conflict has been confined to Anbar, reports suggest that insecurity may now also be spreading to theSouth Central and Northern regions, including Ninewa, Salah-Al-Din and Diyala governorates. Four hundred families are reported to have left Saadiyah in North Diyala this week due to military clashes and fled to Khanaqeen and Jalawla in the same governorate.
In Ninewa, Kirkuk and Salah-Al-Din, the number of families displaced from Anbar has almost doubled over the past week from 5,858 to 10,310.
In Anbar, the volume of displaced people is now overwhelming some host communities. In Heet, which is hosting close to 5,000 families, there is an acute need for basic food supplies, which have become increasingly unaffordable.
The Anbar crisis continues to evolve with no solution in sight. Last week hundreds of people demonstrated in Fallujah calling for an end to the government’s artillery bombardment of the city and for the government to allow in supplies. But a subsequent truce initiative and 72-hour ceasefire was cut short by renewed mortar attacks.
IOM in Anbar is continuing to distribute essential non-food assistance to displaced families whenever security conditions permit. The distribution day is carefully planned and starts at 5.00am. IOM staff leave their homes by different routes every day for security reasons.
On February 24th, as they made their way to the day’s distribution site, they noticed an elderly woman with two children among the hundreds of people waiting for aid. Fatima, a 54-year-old widow, told a story that illustrated the plight of many Anbar’s displaced families.
“I fled from my house in Fallujah two weeks ago because of the fighting. My four children and I are staying with relatives in Ramadi. Things are really hard for us right now. My children left their school, and we had to leave our lives behind. After my husband died, I was only left with our house, and now I do not even have that. My relatives are generous to let the five of us use one room in their house. We have other family now also staying with us and we share everything. But we need support to help us keep our dignity as human beings,” she said.
Since the onset of the crisis, IOM has delivered non-food aid kits to some 3,430 families like Fatima’s – helping a total of over 20,000 people. Each kit contains essential items for a family of six, including mattresses, blankets, pillows, towels, kerosene heaters for cooking, carpets, washing powder and plastic storage boxes.
IOM is appealing for funding from the international community to help thousands of other families affected by the Anbar crisis.
For more information please contact Mandie Alexander at IOM Iraq, Email: email@example.com, Tel: +962 79 6999 426 (Jordan) or +964 78 092 456 48 (Iraq)
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