5 March 2015 Several United Nations agencies are working closely with humanitarian partners to deliver life-saving assistance to thousands of families in the Salah al-Din Governorate of Iraq amid heavy fighting between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has caused the displacement of thousands of people.
On Monday, ISF launched a large-scale offensive to retake Tikrit, the provincial capital, 150 kilometres north of Baghdad, which fell to ISIL forces, along with the northern city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in the summer of 2014.
“We are very worried about the humanitarian situation in Samarra,” said Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, referring to the district where most fighting has occurred. “We know that people are in need and we’re working around the clock to get assistance to them.”
Ms. Grande is responsible for managing the coordinated delivery of life-saving assistance to families affected by the violence, including three convoys of water and sanitation supplies dispatched by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a convoy sent by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from Baghdad, bringing non-food items for over 500 families.
In addition, the World Food Programme (WFP) is sending emergency rations tomorrow, followed by family food rations in the coming weeks, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is dispatching emergency medical supplies based on ongoing assessments and will vaccinate children under the age of five against polio.
The UN is also working with non-governmental organizations to register displaced families and deliver food parcels and non-food items.
“When people need help, we try to do everything possible to reach them. We’re working closely with local authorities and under the leadership of the Government to get aid where’s it’s needed the most. We know that humanitarian needs are increasing because of the clashes and we’re doing what we can to be ready and to respond.” Ms. Grande said.
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