Human cost of Iraq crisis is ‘devastating,’ UN deputy relief chief warns, urging increased humanitarian aid

UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-wha Kang (left), visits the Harshm IDP camp in Erbil, Iraq. Photo: OCHA Iraq

30 November 2015 – Warning of a further “dramatic” worsening of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, a senior United Nations relief official today urged increased international support to assist millions in need and to rebuild areas retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) so people can return to their homes “voluntarily and safely.”

“The human cost of the crisis is devastating. We are extremely worried that all indicators point to a dramatically worsening situation in the months ahead,” said the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang in a news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

According to the news release, Ms. Kang visited Baghdad and Erbil to discuss the humanitarian crisis, where she spoke with women “who had lost virtually everything.” She is currently on a visit to the region, which will include stops in Jordan and Turkey before wrapping up on Sunday, 6 December.

Ms. Kang stressed that responding to the basic needs of these people will require increased capacity, as well as improved access and security is of utmost importance, adding that insecurity “puts the whole aid operation in Iraq at risk.”

Voicing concerns at the impact of economic crisis in the Kurdistan region and in Iraq, she urged the international community to step forward and provide urgent funding for lifesaving assistance, stating that “if this doesn’t happen, the impact will be terribly damaging.”

“Funding is needed to keep programmes open and to help rebuild areas retaken from ISIL so that people can return voluntarily and safely to their homes,” Ms. Kang explained at the end of her two-day mission in Iraq.

According to the UN, nearly 10 million people in Iraq are now in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and close to 3.2 million people are internally displaced since January 2014.

Further, OCHA estimates indicate that the aid response efforts in the country are critically underfunded, forcing humanitarian partners to close scores of lifesaving programmes.

Lastly, OCHA said that of the highly prioritized $498 million plan launched in June to respond to the most acute needs in the second half of 2015, less than 50 percent has been received.

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