More than 100,000 Iraqis displaced in Anbar in the last two weeks are desperately seeking to flee to safety while hardly any aid is reaching them, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned today. The situation is getting more desperate for more than 8.2 million people.
“We're facing a catastrophic scenario for the millions of Iraqis affected by this crisis, with tens of thousands forced to walk for days in temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, often without food, water and shelter," said NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland as ministers meet in Brussels today to launch a new funding appeal for Iraq.
"Our only dream and hope for the future is to go home. That’s it. We just want to go home. We are so mentally tired", a family father, who is kept anonymous due to security reasons, says. The family of seven are orginally from Mosul, but now live in the northern part of Iraq after facing secondary displacement.
"It's a massive whirlwind of displacement for families forced to flee repeatedly for their lives. With the humanitarian response in Iraq chronically underfunded, the world needs to wake up to this massive unfolding disaster and help scale up lifesaving aid."
NRC present in Anbar
NRC is among the few international organisations active in Anbar, but the ongoing fighting is making humanitarian access next to impossible. Up to 85 per cent of Iraqis displaced due to the latest round of violence in Anbar are trapped inside the province and unable to flee. "Together with other aid agencies, we're trying to reach as many of the most vulnerable as possible, but access is too often denied by parties to the conflict or because of the fighting," Egeland said.
"The warring parties must protect the civilian population and allow unfettered humanitarian access. But humanitarian aid alone is not enough. We must help Iraqis bring about reforms that would tackle social cohesion, equitable power sharing and all the long-standing problems that have pitted this great country into chaos," Egeland said.
Serious consequences for Iraqi children
The conflict has lead to a huge education gap in Iraq. Of the 870,000 school aged children that are internally displaced, only 31 per cent have access to education.
“The consequences are serious. On an individual level, many of these children have traumatic experiences due to the conflict and education provides hope and a sense of normalcy. Attending school also offer an arena to provide psycho-social support to children. Children that are not enrolled and attending school are also more vulnerable for exploitation. For the country, education is crucial to prepare young people to the re-building of the country that is needed after this humanitarian emergency”, NRC’s Education Program Manager in Iraq, Georg Mevold, says.