News / Middle East

    UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

    UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraqi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    August 21, 2014 9:10 PM
    The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
    UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq
    Henry Ridgwell

    The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni rebel group Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.  

    Sunburned and dehydrated from their trek across the desert, thousands of refugees continue to arrive at camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. Alongside ethnic minorities like Yazidis and Christians fleeing the Islamic State militants, there are Sunni and Shia Muslims escaping the violence.

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

    In the space of just a few weeks, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes.

    The United Nations began an operation Wednesday to supply basic needs to about half a million of the refugees.

    “This is probably one of the largest supply-driven operations of the United Nations over the last 30 years because of the intensity of displacement and because of the time band of this displacement -- extraordinary high numbers of people, women, children, families displaced in a very short time band which is probably less than one week," said Marzio Babille, the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

    Aid has been flown in from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. More will arrive by road from Turkey and by sea from Dubai and Iran.

    The Badjet Kandela camp was built as a transit point on the border for Syrians fleeing their civil war. Now it is home to more than 11,000 Iraqis. U.N. Field Officer Bahzad Amin says the camp has doubled in size in the last two weeks.

    “This is a very urgent need for the families," said Amin. "We are trying to manage better for the basic facilities, water delivery, latrines installation, and so on.”

    Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region has had its budget cut by the central government in Baghdad in a dispute over oil. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) representative in London, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, says the KRG cannot cope with the refugee influx alone.

    “These are people who have seen murder, rape, genocide. They are traumatized," said Abdul Rahman. "They have nothing, literally nothing except the clothes on their back. They have no toilet facilities. They don’t have access to clean water. We need a serious humanitarian push from the international community, otherwise there will be an outbreak of disease, and things will get even worse now in Kurdistan.”  

    Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who visited a camp near Irbil Wednesday, voiced the hope of the international community that new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, can offer a solution to growing humanitarian crisis.

    Renzi said he hopes Haider al-Abadi is able to rapidly create a cabinet that can meet expectations, not just the expectations of [Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud] Barzani, of the Kurdish government, but the expectations of the whole Iraqi population.  And, he added, the expectations of the whole world.

    Authorities in northern Iraq say the world must help it deal with twin crises -- a well-armed and brutal terrorist group in the Islamic State, and the humanitarian crisis it has created.

    • About 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting in Iraq since the Islamic State's rapid advance began in June. Displaced Iraqis settle at this new camp, in Feeshkhabour town, Iraq,  Aug. 19, 2014.
    • Displaced Iraqis receive clothes provided by a charity, in Feeshkhabour town, Iraq, Aug. 19, 2014. 
    • Iraqi lawmaker Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, center, speaks as lawmakers listen during a press conference in Baghdad, Aug. 19, 2014. 
    • Displaced Iraqis carry clothes provided by a charity at a refugee camp, in Feeshkhabour town, Iraq, Aug. 19, 2014. 
    • Germany's armed forces began sending aid supplies to northern Iraq where thousands of people have fled Islamic State militants, in Alt Duvenstedt, northern Germany, Aug. 15, 2014.
    • A tank belonging to Kurdish peshmerga troops fire at Islamic State militant positions from the frontline in Khazer, Aug. 14, 2014.
    • Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar walk to a refugee camp in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, Aug. 14, 2014.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Patrick from: Louisiana
    August 22, 2014 11:00 AM
    May God bless these people and their children. Please Lord protect them and pour forth Your love onto them, Blessed Savior. I pray you dispatch Your Heavenly hosts for their protection and strengthen and bless those that are providing comfort and healing to their bodies, minds and souls. Thank You My King!

    by: Anonymous
    August 21, 2014 9:44 PM
    what about operation in the Syria, Gaza,Palestine,Africa...and other countries were armies of the zion are slaughtering millions.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora