Mercy Corps Assesses Urgent Humanitarian Need in Iraq as Hundreds of Thousands Flee Fighting

Global humanitarian agency calls for emergency funding from the international community

Jun 12, 2014, 15:59 ET from Mercy Corps

PORTLAND, Ore., June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps has mobilized a team to assess the humanitarian situation in Iraq near the cities of Mosul and Tikrit. According to the United Nations, over the last few days some 500,000 civilians have fled intense fighting in the area.  The agency is calling on the international community to immediately allocate funds as Mercy Corps and other non-governmental organizations mount a humanitarian response.

"We know from decades of experience responding to global emergencies that the most pressing needs will be food, temporary shelter, clean water and sanitation. As new refugee camps fill, we expect there will also be a need to rapidly ramp up psychosocial programming for children and adolescents," says Steve Claborne, Iraq country director for Mercy Corps. "But we must act quickly before humanitarian conditions deteriorate completely. Not only are people trapped in bottlenecks as they flee to safety, but also they are contending with harsh weather as temperatures soar well over 100 degrees."

According to reports, local officials are opening camps near Erbil and Dohuk.  Most civilians are making their way toward the Kurdistan region.

"We applaud the Kurdistan Regional Government for allowing civilians forced to abandon their homes to seek safety within the region and for facilitating humanitarian access to those who need our help," says Claborne. "Iraq is already hosting some 200,000 refugees from Syria, and meeting the needs of thousands of internally displaced civilians will stretch already scarce resources even further."

Mercy Corps has been operating in Iraq since 2003 and its sizeable country team is at the ready to redeploy as the situation evolves.  The agency is coordinating with the United Nations and other aid groups to coordinate an effective response. 

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SOURCE Mercy Corps