15 Jun 2014

NRC - Exploding displacement crisis in Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing threats and fighting in Iraq. “The situation is deteriorating every hour and threatens to throw Iraq into a complicated and dangerous sectarian conflict. We need to be prepared for significantly higher numbers of people displaced”, warns Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland. NRC is scaling up relief in Northern and Western Iraq.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has estimated that about 500.000 people have been displaced in and from Ninewa Province, after armed opposition groups seized control over Iraq´s second largest city Mosul. Since then armed opposition groups have attacked several large cities in Iraq and now control large parts of North and Western Iraq. 480.000 people had been displaced by months of fighting in the Anbar province – leaving the total number of displaced so far this year close to a million. 
Every day tens of thousands of people are fleeing towards the Kurdish region in the North. Many of the displaced are coming by foot in temperatures around 40 degrees and with nothing to protect them from the scorching sun. They are in urgent need of water, shelter and food”, says Egeland.

NRC is providing water and sanitation facilities at a Khazir transit camp, on the road between Mosul and Erbil. One of the families in the camp tells NRC that they fled from the outskirts of Mosul as soon as they heard shooting from the city.

“We heard the sound of shooting and fled with our children. We didn’t know who was killing who. We were very afraid. The only thing I want is safety for my children”, says Sued Muhsin, mother of twins. She has been provided with a tent, water and food.

NRC and other humanitarian organizations are in urgent need of funding to be able to continue the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

“The authorities in the Kurdish region are facing a double challenge. The region is already housing more than 220.000 refugees from Syria, in need of ongoing humanitarian assistance. It is obvious that the authorities will need considerable support to be able to tackle the current crisis”, says Egeland.

NRC fears for the security of the population left in the areas now controlled by armed opposition groups.

“The civilians are left unprotected and we are especially concerned about the safety of the minorities in areas under control by armed groups. Armed attacks on Baghdad or a counter offensive by Iraqi forces may leave even more civilians at risk. It is imperative that all the armed groups ensure that civilians are not being targeted”, says Egeland.

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