(Erbil, 9 June 2015) – Stephen O’Brien, the new Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (USG) and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), called for greater assistance for millions of people across Iraq following a two-day visit to the country.
“It’s imperative at this critical time we do more to mitigate the suffering of the Iraqi people. Much has been done, but the needs continue to increase and more is needed,” said USG O’Brien.
The humanitarian situation in Iraq is dire. Since January 2014, more than three million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes and over eight million people are in need of assistance. Aid agencies urgently need access to vulnerable people in need as well as funding for critical relief work.
On his first mission as ERC, Mr. O’Brien visited Baghdad on 8 June, where he met people recently displaced from Ramadi. On 9 June, exactly one year to the day after Mosul fell, causing mass displacement, he also visited a camp for internally displaced people in Erbil. The ERC also visited refugees from Syria.
"All the families I spoke with had heartbreaking stories of fear, flight, loss and grief. International humanitarian law obliges all those engaged in fighting to protect civilians during hostilities, including by refraining from targeting them,” said USG O'Brien.
During his meetings, USG O’Brien discussed progress and challenges in delivering aid with representatives of the national Government in Baghdad, including H.E President Fuad Masum, H.E.
Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al Jafaari and other senior officials. In Erbil, he held similar discussions with Kurdistan Regional Government officials, including H.E. Prime Minister Nichirvan Barzani,
Deputy Prime Minister Qubud Talabani, Minister of Interior, Mr. Karim Sinjari, and Minister of Planning, Dr. Ali Sindi and other senior officials.
“We had constructive discussions and I emphasized the commitment of the United Nations and partners to work closely with the authorities in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We are committed to meet the most urgent needs, for all Iraqis affected by this crisis, wherever those needs arise,” noted Stephen O’Brien. “As fighting continues, we fear that the humanitarian situation will further deteriorate in the coming months. I encouraged the Government to continue the generosity displayed so far, including by ensuring the freedom of movement of all Iraqis fleeing violence."
Despite the very challenging security conditions in many places, the United Nations and partners are delivering essential aid to people who depend on it for survival. However, without urgent and generous contributions from the international community vital supplies and services will have to be cut.
“We are working to ensure emergency assistance is provided wherever it is needed in Iraq. But we urgently need US$497 million to provide shelter, food, water and other life-saving services over the coming six months. This is the bare minimum needed to cover the most basic needs in Iraq. In actuality, the needs are far greater and we wish we could ask for - and receive - the full amount we need,” noted USG O’Brien. “It is my job to remind the international community that behind every statistic stands a child, woman or a man. Humanitarian aid means life, health and hope to each of them. We must not let the people of Iraq down.”
For further information, please contact:
David Swanson, OCHA Iraq, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell +964 750-377-0849
Amanda Pitt, OCHA New York, email@example.com, Cell +1 917 442 1810
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or www.reliefweb.int.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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