Middle East

Aid corridors needed to reach Iraqi displaced

Iraqi fleeing citizens, of those who fled from Mosul, Iraq, and other northern towns, enter a camp for displaced people, in Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

GENEVA: The International Organization for Migration warned Friday that aid workers could not reach tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by the violence rocking the country, urging the establishment of humanitarian corridors to access those in need.

"The only way to respond (to the needs of the displaced) is to create humanitarian corridors," IOM spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told reporters in Geneva.

The migration body said that it, along with the U.N.'s World Food Program and children's agency UNICEF, had been able to distribute relief to around 10,000 people in Iraq this month.

"But that is a drop in the bucket when you consider the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced by the ongoing fighting in Mosul, Tal Afar, Tikrit and on the road south to Baghdad," IOM Baghdad Emergency Coordinator Mandie Alexander said in a statement.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have captured a swathe of territory in northern Iraq in a lightning assault which is threatening to tear the country apart.

The onslaught has killed nearly 1,100 people.

People fleeing the violence in the north are now dispersed in 17 of the country's 18 governorates and many were beyond the reach of aid workers, IOM said.

"We cannot accurately assess their needs or deliver aid to the vast majority because of the lack of security and hundreds of road blocks," Alexander explained, adding that the road blocks also stopped people in need from getting to places where they could receive aid.

"We cannot reach them and they cannot reach us," she said.

Alexander warned the recent onslaught had radically altered the situation in Iraq.

"Iraq is no longer the country that we knew and the Iraq we knew will never exist again," she said, lamenting that "we have turned back the clock to the emergencies of 2003 and 2006 and what we now have is a very complex humanitarian emergency with huge obstacles to overcome."

IOM, which counts a total of 250 international and national staff in Iraq, said that it had been able to locate and identify the needs of 240,000 displaced people in 240 different locations across the country.

But Alexander warned the situation remained "very volatile," with families often displaced multiple times.

The U.N. this week tripled its appeal for humanitarian funding for Iraq to more than $312 million.





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