Baghdad/Geneva (ICRC) – Thousands of civilians who fled the ongoing violence in Al Anbar in search of safety are enduring considerable hardship. Responding to their growing needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has delivered food and essential supplies over the past few days to nearly 12,000 displaced people in Saqlawiya, Ramadi, Heet, Habbaniya, Abu Ghraib, Rahalliya, Nasaf, Fallujah and Tikrit, as well as in the areas north of Babel and west of Karbala.
"During the aid distribution we encountered a group of around 65 people, many of them children, who were all staying in the same four-room house," said Rashid Hasan, an ICRC delegate who participated in a distribution of aid in Tikrit. "People are struggling hard to cope with the cold as blankets, mattresses and food are lacking."
The situation of those who had to flee their homes shows no signs of improvement. ICRC staff are currently attempting to determine the needs of people in the areas of Saleheddin, Karbala, Babel, Ramadi and Fallujah whose lives have been disrupted by the violence.
All parties involved in the recent violence are being urged by the ICRC to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people who need it. Despite the security situation, local communities and the national authorities did manage to facilitate the distribution that has just been completed.
"Wherever we go in Iraq, we work closely with community leaders, religious figures and tribes to relieve the suffering of people trapped in this situation of violence," said Patrick Youssef, head of the ICRC delegation in the country. "In this most recent operation, their cooperation enabled us to take swift and effective action. We hope we'll be able to help more people in the coming days."
The ICRC is calling on those involved in fighting to spare and protect civilians, and to allow medical personnel to carry out their lifesaving duties in safety.
The ICRC has been making a constant effort to respond to the needs of thousands of Iraqis displaced as a result of the sporadic violence. In 2013, it brought food and essential relief supplies to more than 22,000 people in the areas of Diyala, Ninewa, Karbala, Babel and Baghdad.