Last updated: 13 June, 2014

UN steps up aid response in Iraq

The United Nations is stepping up aid deliveries to Iraq, where hundreds of thousands have already been displaced, setting up camps and providing medical supplies, a spokesman said Friday.

“UN agencies are moving further supplies into the country in anticipation of further displacement,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

A World Food Programme flight from Dubai would transport humanitarian supplies to Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, he said.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said earlier Friday that hundreds of people may have been killed in recent days and nearly 1,000 wounded as Sunni militants march on Baghdad.

UN refugee agency UNHCR is concerned about a shortage of shelter as the numbers of displaced increase, Haq said.

He said 300,000 people are reported to have arrived in Arbil and Dohuk with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Families in Dohuk are sheltering in mosques, schools, churches and unfinished buildings, and a growing number of people are staying at a transit camp near Mosul, he said.

“UNHCR has helped the Iraqi government set up tents and is providing other relief items. Other UN agencies are installing latrines and water tanks,” he said.

Aid workers have set up a new camp to host some 3,000 people near Dohuk and two more sites are being planned, Haq said.

The World Health Organization and partners are helping to provide medicines to families stranded at checkpoints, and will provide measles vaccinations in the next few days, Haq said.

The head of the UN mission in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has been holding talks on “initiatives” and “trying to see what he can do to bring the Iraqi government and people together,” Haq said.

On Friday, Mladenov urged the Iraqi federal court for a “timely” certification of the 2014 legislative election results, he said.

“At this stage we do believe that Baghdad for now is safe. That may change and of course if there are any changes we will raise alerts accordingly,” Haq said.