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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
2 April 2006

IRAQ: More than 40,000 displaced, ministry estimates

BAGHDAD, 2 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - More than 40,000 people have been displaced countrywide as a result of ongoing sectarian violence, Ministry of Displacement and Migration officials said on Sunday.

“More than 40,000 Iraqis have been displaced in different areas. They lack supplies and require urgent help,” said ministry spokesman Sattar Nawruz. “And with ongoing violence, we expect more families to be displaced in the coming days.”

According to Nawruz, numerous families have been forced to leave their homes by militants who want to maintain the sectarian character, either Sunni or Shi’ite, of certain residential areas. “We now have sectarian problems never seen in Iraq before,” he said. “Those who suffer are the innocent civilians who live in tents under deteriorating conditions.”

Nawruz estimated that some 1,000 Iraqis were being displaced daily as a direct result of violence and intimidation. While the government has allocated nearly US $400,000 to support displaced families countrywide, Nawruz maintained that more funds were required to contain the situation.

On 29 March, the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) put the number of displaced at 30,000, noting that the situation could not improve in the reigning atmosphere of violence.

“People will continue leaving their homes due to sectarian violence,” said IOM spokeswoman Dana Graber from Amman. “If no urgent action is taken, the displacement will run out of control.”

According to IOM figures, more than one million people are now displaced countrywide as a result of three decades of conflict. Graber noted that the situation was generally much worse in central and southern Iraq, where episodes of sectarian violence have been the most frequent.

Currently, the IOM is cooperating with the migration ministry and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) with the aim of providing support to thousands of displaced families. The IOM has taken charge of the distribution of emergency supplies, such as food, blankets, cooking utensils and hygiene kits. The two aid agencies are providing affected families with clean water and medical assistance in more than 14 temporary camps countrywide.

According to the migration ministry, about 600 Iraqis have taken refuge in the city of Tikrit, some 175km north of the capital, and another 8,000 in the city of Najaf, about 160km south of Baghdad. All live in makeshift camps and receive assistance from local relief organisations, the IRCS and from residents.

Roughly 3,000 people have also fled to the cities of Samawa and Kut, while thousands of others have moved to different districts within Baghdad, where the IRCS has set up facilities and distributed potable water among the displaced. Parks, football pitches, abandoned schools and empty government buildings are being used by families as temporary shelters.

Muhammad Kutaiba, spokesman for Iraq Relief for People, a local NGO, says that displaced families still require urgent help, despite government efforts. “With nearly 1,000 people displaced every day, all efforts will be useless if more money isn’t invested by the government and international aid organisations don’t offer more support,” said Kutaiba.

In an attempt to alleviate the suffering of those who have lost their homes, the IOM is currently seeking US $10 million for a 12-month emergency programme.

[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006



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