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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
4 April 2006

IRAQ: Rising number of displaced in south need aid, say relief agencies

BAGHDAD, 4 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - A growing number of displaced families in the southern city of Najaf are in urgent need of food supplies and health care, local aid agencies said.

“The number of displaced moving to Najaf is increasing everyday with the ongoing sectarian violence. We’re having difficulties supplying all of them,” said Hassan Dureid, spokesperson for Iraqi Brothers Relief, a local NGO working in southern Iraq. “We require urgent help from international aid agencies and the central government.”

According to Dureid, the number of displaced people on the outskirts of Najaf, located some 150km south of the capital, Baghdad, reached 8,000 last week, with hundreds more joining them since. This figure, he added, does not include those who have taken refuge with relatives in Najaf and nearby Kerbala.

The majority of the refugees are Arab Shi’ites fleeing violence in Baghdad and in neighbouring cities. Most of them are currently taking refuge at a temporary camp called al-Kafal, about 25km from Najaf. “We lack blankets, tents, food and medical care and children are having serious problems with diarrhoea and vomiting,” Dureid said.

The Ministry of Displacement and Migration said it had sent a special team from the ministry’s Disaster Department to evaluate and assist refugees by providing them with electricity, water and health care. However, local officials say that little has been done so far.

“The problem grows every day,” said senior Najaf governorate official Ali Kadham. “We need urgent help and funds because the amount sent to us isn’t enough. When the money is divided amongst the displaced, each will get less than US $10 for the whole month.” The funding is part of US $400,000 allocated by Baghdad to assist displaced families countywide.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is dispatching weekly convoys of food parcels, cooking stoves and tents from the capital. According to Kadham, however, this is not enough to ensure that displaced families get everything they need to survive.

“We need support from other organisations to guarantee good living conditions for the displaced,” said Haydar Abdul-Rassul, an IRCS volunteer working in Najaf. “The most important is to not let children go hungry or get ill – unfortunately, many of them already are.”

Meanwhile, local NGOs are providing families with water and food with coordination from the IRCS and local municipality officials.

Following appeals by religious leaders, Najaf residents have launched a campaign to solicit donations to help displaced families living on the city’s outskirts. “If each resident gives some food to these families, they won’t suffer,” said Najaf resident Mariam Ali.



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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