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Some Iraqi Provinces Closing Door to Displaced

The International Organization for Migration says some provinces in Iraq are closing their doors to internally displaced people fleeing violence in Baghdad and other parts of the country.  IOM says these areas are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the growing number of homeless people.  Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

The United Nations estimates that almost 2 million people are now internally displaced within Iraq.  Of these, about 800,000 people have fled their homes since late February 2006, following the bombing of the Shi'ite golden mosque in Samarra.

A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Jean-Philippe Chauzy, says the displaced are vulnerable and in great need of help. 

"The International Organization for Migration has been monitoring around 55,000 families in 15 of the 18 governorates of Iraq," he said.  "We found out that an overwhelming majority of those displaced, about 75 percent of the displaced, do not have adequate access to shelter, to food, to medical assistance, to drinkable water.  Therefore, the challenges are quite enormous." 

In the Governorate of Karbala, south of Baghdad, Chauzy says, local authorities are turning away internally displaced people because of the severe strain the displaced are putting on local resources and services.  He says this is also occurring elsewhere in the country. 

"The burden placed by the displaced on public services on host communities has basically brought the authorities of those governorates to stop the displaced from basically coming in and settling into these governorates," he added.  "And, so that is obviously an added worry for the agencies that are trying to operate inside Iraq"

IOM has appealed for $50 million to fund its operations for internally displaced people.  It has received only a fifth of that amount. 

But Chauzy says IOM has received a $3.5 million donation from the UN's Central Emergency Revolving Fund.  He says, thanks to that, the agency will be able to deliver desperately needed food and non-food assistance to some 15,000 vulnerable families over the next three months.

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