UN emergency fund allocates $15 million to support people fleeing Fallujah
June 21, Geneva: The top United Nations relief official chief on Monday released $15 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide urgent life-saving assistance for people affected by the recent fighting and military operations in Fallujah.
“People escaping Fallujah are in desperate need of assistance now, this minute. We must act fast before this situation becomes a humanitarian catastrophe. These funds are time critical; however they only offer a small portion of what is urgently needed,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, in a statement issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Since this past month, more than 85,000 people have been forced to flee the city, displacing families from their homes, communities and livelihoods. Those remaining in the city face dire shortages of food, medicine, electricity and safe drinking water, OCHA said.
“The families who have managed to flee Fallujah have escaped with nothing: they need everything,” warned Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
“Humanitarian partners are working around the clock to provide shelter, water, health care, household kits and specialized support for the victims of gender and sexual-based violence. This CERF grant will allow us to rapidly scale up our efforts, so it could not be more timely,” she added.
Temperatures in the region are averaging 115 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. Many people are unable to access clean drinking water, and shade is limited, while already vulnerable communities are more susceptible to outbreaks of communicable diseases and there is a real risk of a cholera outbreak, OCHA said.
Response efforts will include improvements to hygiene and sanitation in order to help prevent the spread of disease.
OCHA indicated that the CERF funds will enable the UN humanitarian agencies in Iraq, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to quickly assist the newly displaced people.
OCHA is working with the Government of Iraq to quickly set up camps to provide additional shelters. Humanitarian partners will also focus on relief efforts to assist women and children who are particularly vulnerable in the conflict.
In addition, mobile psychological support teams are being established to provide specialized care for victims of the violence. The CERF funding will also enable health teams to provide critical care for newborn babies and children who have had limited health support and who have not yet been immunized.
The UN Humanitarian Response Plan in Iraq has called for $861 million to address the needs of people affected by the current crisis. To date, the appeal is only 36 per cent funded, OCHA said.
A further $65 million will be needed to respond to the current situation in Fallujah. This is expected to further strain already stretched resources and force humanitarian partners to reprioritize existing relief supplies and services, OCHA noted.
Contingency stocks are nearly depleted, which could leave other communities in the country potentially vulnerable. While agencies have been preparing for the Fallujah situation for some time, the number of displaced people and the scope of their needs have outpaced humanitarian capacity, OCHA emphasized.
The Oslo Times International News Network