ERBIL, Iraq, 24 June 2014 – Safe water and hygiene are at the centre of UNICEF’s humanitarian response to children and families affected by the on-going conflict in Iraq. The latest crisis, which began on 11 June, resulted in the displacement of an estimated 500,000 people, half of them children.
In recent days, UNICEF has led missions to support local authorities with immediate assessments and provision of life-saving interventions. UNICEF teams reached children and families in Sinjar and Tel Keif, only a few kilometres away from the front-lines in Mosul. So far, UNICEF has delivered over 70,000 litres of drinking water, 5,000 food parcels and 3,500 hygiene kits, in addition to recreation material for approximately 15,000 children, many of who belong to minorities who are particularly vulnerable.
On Sunday, a joint mission led by UNICEF, with the International Organization for Migration and UN Refugee Agency, reached Kirkuk, where discussions with mayors and leaders at the provincial level outlined immediate actions for providing similar assistance over the coming days.
“UNICEF is gaining access to children in hard-to-reach areas, including many from underserved minorities. In particular, we are encouraged by having reached thousands of children in disputed territories with life-saving interventions,” said UNICEF Representative in Iraq Marzio Babille.
Babille also stressed that with the political and humanitarian situation in Iraq still evolving rapidly, there was much more to be done.
“This crisis is stretching our humanitarian efforts and financial resources to the maximum,” he said. “We are grateful to all our donors who have provided support but we clearly need much more to be able to provide sufficient aid to children and their families, and we look to the generosity of the international community for that.”
The recent crisis in Iraq comes in addition to other challenges facing Iraq including a mass displacement of population from western Anbar province, the re-emergence of polio after 14 years and an influx of refugees from neighbouring Syria. The increasingly complex situation is putting additional strain on host families whose financial resources are dwindling by the day. Fuel shortages are impacting the delivery of basic services including the pumping of water and electricity, while prices of basic commodities continue to rise, with particular impact on the poorest communities, including those displaced.
About UNICEF Iraq UNICEF has been in Iraq since 1983 working and supporting the Government of Iraq to ensure Iraqi children survive and realize their full potential. Maintaining its comparative advantage in health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, child protection and social policy, UNICEF supports the development of child friendly policies, building the capacity of institutions that deliver essential services to children and convening all duty bearers to realize the full rights of Iraqi children. Via a network of staff and partners, UNICEF’s programmes improve basic health services, safeguard quality education, develop water and sanitation systems, protect children from abuse, violence, and exploitation, and meet the needs of the most deprived and vulnerable. For more information about UNICEF and its work for the children of Iraq, please visit: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/iraq.html or www.unicef.org/mena.
About UNICEF UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.