News / Middle East

Iraq's Displaced Top One Million

  • The United States began to drop relief supplies to beleaguered Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants in Iraq. Here displaced people, who fled from the violence in the province of Nineveh, arrive at Sulaimaniya province, Aug. 8, 2014.
  • Shi'ite Muslims listen to Sheikh Abdul Mehdi Al-Karbala'i speak as he delivers the text of a sermon by Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during Friday prayers at the Imam Hussein shrine in the holy city of Karbala, Aug. 8, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq inside the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Demonstrators ask for help for Yazidi people who are stranded by violence in northern Iraq, across from the White House in Washington, DC, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect take refuge at Dohuk province, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced Iraqis take refuge at Dohuk province, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Kurdish peshmerga troops patrol in a tank during an operation against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, Aug. 5, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The International Organization for Migration reports fighting in Iraq between Islamic State rebels and Kurdish Peshmerga military has pushed the number of internally displaced people in Iraq to over one million. IOM says this is the highest number of IDPs in Iraq since the Islamist advance began in January. 

According to IOM, more than 54 percent of Iraq's displaced have fled their homes since June. That is when Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, began an accelerated push for territory in northern Iraq.
 

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The militants have seized control of large swathes of territory from the Iraqi government, including the important city of Mosul. While the current displacement numbers are dramatic, IOM spokesman Chris Lom says they are probably grossly underestimated.
 
“All these numbers are extremely fluid," said Lom. "They clearly do not include people who are actually on the move and particularly these people in the mountains who, up to now, we have been unable to access.”
 
Mass exodus

Attacks by Islamic State against Iraq’s Yazidi religious group have triggered a mass exodus from Nineveh’s Sinjar region. About 140,000 reportedly have fled this week, most to Kurdish-controlled areas. The U.N. reports some 50,000 people, half of them children, have escaped to the Sinjar Mountains on the border with Syria.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Program, Elizabeth Byrs, says the Yazidi remain trapped in the mountains, unable to reach safe areas and humanitarian aid.

"Many of he families who fled violence in Nineveh’s Sinjar region in recent weeks are in urgent need of water, food and shelter," she said. "You know that there are very high temperatures. It is very difficult to live in this type of conditions and people are looking for water and food and WFP is very concerned.”
 
US air drops

Aid agencies report the humanitarian situation of the Yazidi is dire. The United States has begun airdrops of food and water to help the desperate men, women and children survive.

The U.N. Human Rights Office says it is deeply alarmed by the situation in northern Iraq, particularly the situation of vulnerable minority groups, including the Yazidi, Christian and Turkomen communities.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says her office continues to receive worrying reports of atrocities being committed by the Islamic State against the groups.

“We do have very worrying information of children dying of the recruitment of child soldiers," she said. "And, we also have very disturbing reports of the treatment of women - women being sold as sex slaves and, you know, being punished for not adhering to the misinterpretations of Islamic law as well.  We have very worrying reports of these.”

Shamdasani says widespread or systematic attacks directed against any civilian population because of their ethnic background, religion or belief might constitute a crime against humanity. She says all armed groups, including the Islamic State, must abide by international humanitarian law, including that of protecting civilians.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid