The humanitarian situation in Iraq is rapidly deteriorating both inside and outside the country. Over 60,000 Iraqis are being uprooted from their homes each month, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. The number of displaced Iraqis increased from a previous rate of 50,000 refugees a month, bringing the total number of displaced Iraqis to 4.2 million. Many of the displaced are living in tent camps that lack access to clean water, sanitation and health care.
Inside Iraq, there are more than two million people who have been displaced, including over one million that have been forced to leave their homes since the bombings of a Shiite mosque in 2006. Displacements affect all parts of Iraq, with 780,000 Iraqis displaced in northern provinces, 650,000 in the center of the country and 790,000 refugees living in camps in the southern part of Iraq.
The displacements not only affect Iraq, but the countries along the border as well. There are an estimated 1.4 million Iraqis in Syria and 750,000 in Jordan. Iraqis have also fled to Europe, Australia, and the United States.
“Displacement is rising as Iraqis are finding it harder to get access to social services inside Iraq and many Iraqis are choosing to leave ethnically mixed areas before they are forced to do so. Some Iraqis who stayed in the country until the end of the school year recently started leaving the country with their families,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis .
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has over 300 staff members devoted to easing the transition of Iraqis to other countries, including those with special needs,such as thise that have been tortured or traumatized.
“We continue to appeal for more support and also encourage donors to provide direct bilateral support to the refugee hosting countries whose schools, hospitals, public services and infrastructure are seriously overstretched because of the presence of millions of Iraqis they have so generously welcomed,”said Pagonis.
Syria and Jordan, the two countries with the most Iraqi refugees, are struggling with increased education and transportation costs due to the influx of the displaced. The UNHCR has asked for $223 million to support the countries that are bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis. Seventy-five percent of the first $123 million appeal has been funded, but UNICEF’s $129 million joint education appeal has not been funded. The money requested by UNICEF is aimed at affording 150,000 Iraqi children the opportunity to return to school.
Source: United Nations High Commission on Refugees Press Release (http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/46d3f68f4.html)