ERBIL, Iraq, 3 September 2014 – A team of UNICEF technical officers, including health, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection and emergency experts, were on an inter-agency assessment mission today to the town of Amerli in the Salah Al-Din Governorate, northern Iraq.
This was the first UN humanitarian mission to the area since the two-month-long siege was lifted on Sunday morning.
UNICEF estimates 3,000 children have been trapped in the area during this period and the humanitarian situation on the ground remains dire. During the siege, families suffered from dwindling supplies of food, hygiene and medical supplies and had limited access to safe drinking water.
UNICEF met with local officials on the ground who relayed accounts of suffering, including people forced to subsist on bread and water alone.
UNICEF encountered no doctors in the town, but spoke with a pharmacist who reported that two children and seven pregnant women died in Amerli during the siege. UNICEF was unable to verify this report during the mission.
The Mayor of Amerli requested UNICEF to provide additional lifesaving supplies including food, water and medical supplies. He also requested support to rehabilitate the only primary health clinic in town. The Mayor expressed concern that the school year will be unable to begin for the 11 primary schools in town.
Basic services such as water and electricity were cut off during the siege and are now gradually returning.
In the 48 hours immediately following the lifting of the siege, UNICEF dispatched several convoys (15 trucks) carrying more than 100 metric tonnes of life-saving supplies to benefit 15,000 people in Amerli.
These supplies included family food packs, oral rehydration kits for health clinics, emergency food rations, therapeutic food for malnourished children, family hygiene kits and more than 8,490 bottles of water.
Provision of supplies to date fall far short of the existing need. More must be done to provide humanitarian supplies to children, women and their families in the area.
Since January, UNICEF has delivered lifesaving assistance to 641,243 people displaced throughout Iraq.
In the month of August alone, UNICEF delivered nearly 360 metric tonnes of humanitarian aid for more than 314,000 displaced people, including safe drinking water, supplementary food (such as high protein biscuits), and emergency health kits, among other items.
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. For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org
For more information and to arrange for interviews with UNICEF staff who participated in this mission please contact: Jeffrey Bates, Chief of Communications, UNICEF Iraq, firstname.lastname@example.org, +964 780 196 4524 Karim Elkorany, External Relations Officer, UNICEF Iraq, email@example.com, +964 780 925 8542 Juliette Touma, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Iraq, firstname.lastname@example.org, +964-780-9-28-265