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Major funding gap has left Iraq on brink of 'catastrophe,' UN warns as new humanitarian appeal launched

4 June 2015 – Critical aid operations supporting millions of people affected by the conflict in Iraq are at risk of shutting down unless funds are made available immediately, the United Nations official overseeing relief operations in the country warned today as she joined an international appeal for nearly $500 million to cover the immediate needs of 5.6 million Iraqis for the next six months.

"Humanitarian partners have been doing everything they can to help. But more than 50 per cent of the operation will be shut down or cut back if money is not received immediately," Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the war-torn country warned at an appeal launch at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The implications of this, Ms. Grande said, would be "catastrophic" in what is already one of the most complex and volatile crisis anywhere in the world. The humanitarian needs in the country are huge and growing. More than 8 million people require immediate life-saving support, a number that could reach 10 million by the end of 2015.

With the conflict escalating, the UN and its non-governmental (NGO) partners are asking donors for $497 million to cover the cost of providing shelter, food, water and other life-saving services over the coming six months. The appeal will target 5.6 million people displaced or affected by the violence between Government forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Violence has already forced nearly three million people from their homes, leaving them scattered in more than 3,000 locations across the country. Human rights and rule of law are under constant assault. Mass executions, systematic rape and horrendous acts of violence are also rampant.

The funding shortfall has already caused 77 frontline health clinics to close while food rations for over a million people have also been reduced. Without additional funding, many more life-saving services will be withdrawn.

'The international community must do its absolute utmost to meet the humanitarian needs in Iraq. Along with the life-saving assistance, there is a critical need to focus on access to education, as a way to help save this generation of children marked by conflict and violence,' said Chair of European Parliament's Development Committee Linda McAvan.

The UN aid operation is run in close partnership with Iraqi Government, whose own financial resources have been severely reduced by falling income from oil. Responsibility for the aid operation will transfer to national authorities as soon as financially and logistically feasible.

The UN Iraq works at the request of the Government to support national development efforts on political, electoral, and humanitarian levels. The UN advises and supports the government of Iraq and works on capacity building to strengthen institutions during the democratic transition.

UN Iraq is made up of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Country Team (UNCT), which regroups the 20 UN agencies currently operating in Iraq.

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