Millions Need Support in Strife-Torn Iraq: UN

New UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Stephen O’Brien (second right), in Erbil during a two-day visit to Iraq. Photo: UNAMI PIO/Fabienne Vinet
New UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Stephen O’Brien (second right), in Erbil during a two-day visit to Iraq. Photo: UNAMI PIO/Fabienne Vinet

Millions of people are in need of a greater assistance across Iraq, said Stephen O’Brien, the new Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, following a two-day visit to the strife-torn country.

“It’s imperative at this critical time we do more to mitigate the suffering of the Iraqi people. Much has been done, but the needs continue to increase and more is needed,” stated Mr. O’Brien, who assumed his post as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the beginning of June.

The humanitarian situation in Iraq is dire. Since January 2014, more than three million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes and over eight million people are in need of assistance that aid agencies cannot always provide them with, due to lack of access or because of funding challenges.

On his first mission in his capacity as Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. O’Brien visited Baghdad, where he met people recently displaced from Ramadi. Today, exactly one year after Mosul fell, causing mass displacement, he visited a camp for internally displaced people in Erbil, as well as refugees from Syria.

“All the families I spoke with had heart-breaking stories of fear, flight, loss and grief. International humanitarian law obliges all those engaged in fighting to protect civilians during hostilities, including by refraining from targeting them,” urged the Under Secretary-General.

During his meetings, he discussed progress and challenges in delivering aid with governmental representatives in Baghdad, including the Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Jafaari, among other senior officials.

In Erbil, he held similar discussions with Kurdistan Regional Government officials, including the Prime Minister Nichirvan Barzani.

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