No safe routes for civilians trapped inside Fallujah

Fallujah has been in the news a lot over the past few days with stories such as this one  titled “Mixed Iraqi force prepares for push into militant stronghold of Fallujah” and this one  titled ‘A new formula in the battle for Fallujah”. And of course there are stories like this one that talks about “re-taking” Fallujah (at least the headline is a good one: “The latest battle in Fallujah is a symbol of the futility of US efforts in Iraq”).

But this is the one I want everyone to see:

No safe routes for civilians trapped inside Fallujah

As military operations to retake the besieged town of Fallujah continue, thousands of civilian families are trapped in the fighting with no safe route out, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned today. The lock-down for civilians trying to flee continued last night with no more families confirmed to have safely reached out of town. As of Tuesday morning, up to 50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in Fallujah since military operations began yesterday.

NRC staff working in displacement camps outside the town say only 80 families have managed to flee to safety just hours before the fighting began.

“Nobody else seems to have been allowed out of town; there are thousands trapped in Fallujah with intense fighting raging on their doorsteps,” said NRC’s Country Director in Iraq, Nasr Muflahi.

“Families who have been suffering food and medical shortages over the last months now risk being caught in the crossfire, and it is absolutely vital that they are granted safe routes out of there so that we can assist them. All parties to this conflict have to provide safe exits for civilians.”

The few families who have managed to flee to safety in displacement camps speak of a dangerous journey out of the town ahead of the military operations. They have sought safety in camps in Amiryiat Al Fallujah, around 30kms away from Fallujah’s centre. NRC is present providing the newly displaced families with emergency water, food parcels and hygiene kits.

It is estimated that as many as 7,000 families will be internally displaced within Fallujah if the intense fighting continues. Iraq is facing a complex and multiple displacement crisis with more than 1.1 million people displaced inside Iraq last year alone. A staggering total of 3.4 million people are currently internally displaced across the country.

 

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