The United Nations launched an appeal on Thursday for half a billion dollars in international aid to tackle a worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq triggered by the conflict with Islamic State militants.
Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said the United Nations would be forced to slash or shut down more than half its aid operations in Iraq without an immediate injection of new funds. “In the months ahead the humanitarian situation is going to get worse … By the end of 2015, 10 million Iraqis are likely to need some form of life-saving assistance,” Grande said, launching the appeal at the European Parliament.
Violence has already forced nearly 3 million Iraqis from their homes, the U.N. says. Grande said more than 4.4 million Iraqis needed food as key agricultural areas, including large parts of Iraq’s cereal belt, had fallen under Islamic State control.
World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan said public services for health, water, and sanitation, were collapsing. “Crowded, unsanitary conditions bring a high risk of infectious diseases, especially for the millions who have been internally displaced … Cases of measles are now being reported from all 18 governorates. Cholera is endemic,” she said.
In Geneva, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres called for U.N. and other aid agencies to “get out of their comfort zone” and reach tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled fighting and are in desperate need of aid and health care in areas including north of Mosul, south of Kirkuk and the outskirts of Baghdad.