Iraq: Thousands of civilians flee Anbar

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As operations to retake opposition-held areas in Ramadi and Fallujah continue, thousands of civilians are forced to flee their homes. © NRC Iraq

As operations to retake opposition-held areas in Ramadi and Fallujah continue, thousands of civilians are forced to flee their homes. “Aid agencies are struggling to provide assistance due to the sudden increase in newly displaced families from towns inside Anbar governorate,” NRC’s Area Manager in Baghdad, Anja Riiser says.

NRC and other humanitarian actors present in the Anbar province are witnessing a sharp increase in the number of new arrivals to safe areas inside Anbar. According to NRC’s teams on the ground, more than 3,500 individuals have arrived during the last three days and thousands more are expected in the upcoming week.

“The newly displaced people we meet are afraid and very tired, but at the same time relieved that they have finally made it to safety. Unfortunately, it does not take long before they start worrying about how to keep their children warm at night, how to provide their family members with enough food and how to keep the scorpions out of their tents. Despite this, they are very grateful to receive what can be described as the bare minimum of aid,” Riiser reports from one of the newly established camps in Amriyat al-Falluja where NRC is present delivering clean water, food parcels, hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses and heaters to new arrivals.

As the numbers of newly displaced families increase, Iraq continues to face shortfalls in funding needed to ensure that people fleeing conflict and violence have access to aid. At the same time, actors such as NRC are trying to increase their capacity to be able to respond to people’s needs in several locations across the country. The situation in Iraq remains incredibly volatile as fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups in areas such as Anbar continues.

“Humanitarian actors and the government are struggling to meet even the most basic needs of the displaced. All actors report that their stocks are rapidly depleting and that more support is urgently needed. NRC is present on the ground, providing life-saving assistance to people who have fled conflict and violence, but we need more international support”, Riiser says.

As part of the 2016 humanitarian response plan, Iraq will request 861 million US dollars to meet the needs of the 7.3 million most vulnerable people across the country. However, it is estimated that as many as 10 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance by the end of this year.

“The international community cannot fail these people; we need urgent funding to be released now to do the job we are here to do,” Riiser adds.

NRC relies on the flexibility and support of the international community in urgent situations of new displacement, and urges the international community to keep the plight of the people of Iraq high on their agenda.

Press contacts:
- Becky Bakr Abdulla, Media Coordinator Iraq, +964 (0) 7515019899 / +47 416 13 766
- Tuva Raanes Bogsnes, Head of Media and Communication, + 47 932 31 883