29 Jun 2014

Save the Children - Thousands of families flee fresh attack on Iraqi villages

Save the Children warns that thousands more could arrive in Erbil in next 24 hours

Thousands of families have arrived in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, having fled new attacks on Christian villages between Wednesday and Thursday night, according to Save the Children. The families, many of them with small children, are sheltering in youth centres, schools and churches in the city of Erbil.

The children’s aid organisation is also warning that over the next 24 hours, humanitarian organisations will see thousands more families arriving, seeking sanctuary from Karakosh, Ba'akshiqa and other villages. Most people are arriving with almost nothing and need emergency supplies of food, water and shelter.

Save the Children has built a safe space for children in one of the local youth centres in Erbil, and is distributing mattresses, blankets and food supplies for families packed five to a classroom in local schools.

Families from the town of Karakosh, approximately 80km from Erbil, said they dropped everything and ran early Wednesday evening, when they heard shooting and explosions on the outskirts of the town.

Efil, a 14 year-old school boy, said: "I heard the shooting and explosions not far from my house last night, and we saw smoke rising behind the buildings. I was a little scared, but my parents were really frightened for me and my brother and sister. We fled in a hurry and couldn't bring anything. At least it's safe here, but now I don't know where we will stay."

Save the Children's country director in Iraq, Tina Yu, says: "This is only the latest development in the massive humanitarian crisis which has engulfed Iraq, with hundreds of thousands of children forced to flee with their families to escape the violence in the north and west of the country. ​We also should not forget that there are already a quarter of a million Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”

"Save the Children is working across the region to reach the huge number of families who need our help, but an increase in funding for the relief effort from the international community is urgently needed. We are seeking $10m to continue to provide emergency food, water and shelter, as well as long term support and education for children."

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