Fallujah refugee crisis the worst in UN history

fallujah dire crisis

This article….what can one say?! Apocalyptic” conditions…

Fallujah refugee crisis the worst in UN history

Tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the Battle of Fallujah are enduring “apocalyptic” conditions, aid agencies said yesterday as the UN announced it was facing the worst refugee ­crisis in its history.

Many are staying in squalid desert camps around the fringes of the Iraqi city, where there is a desperate shortage of food, water and sanitation. Families are being forced to sleep in the open owing to the lack of tents.

A man who gave his name as Azeez told aid workers he and his family had fled Fallujah in only the clothes they were wearing. “Until now we’re sleeping on the ground, in the dust. There are no tents, no mattresses, no toilets,” he said, speaking from the Amariyat Al Fallujah camp, where 2000 people are living. “There are two (toilets) designated for an entire camp. Women stand in line to enter the toilet from morning until noon.”

Nasr Muflahi, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s director in Iraq, said: “The conditions we are seeing in the camps are miserable, the scenes apocalyptic. We need the Iraqi government to work with the UN to step in and actually manage these camps so aid can be provided efficiently. And we need food, water, medicines and other essential aid to get in urgently.”

Karl Schembri, an aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council, described one camp he had just visited. “Believe me, it is a nightmare, hell on earth,” he said. “Screams, shouting, dust, heat, a woman collapsing with exhaustion; an elderly woman taking her last breaths surrounded by her family; children with nowhere to go; so many without tents or shelter; many for five days now. It is 48 ­degrees.”

According to the UN more than 84,000 people have fled fighting between Islamic State and the Iraqi army in Fallujah, which is 55km from Baghdad. The number has doubled in the past four days as many of those trapped by violence were able to escape after a decisive advance by government troops.

The Fallujah exodus comes as the UN’s refugee agency reported that wars in Syria and Iraq had pushed the total number of people driven from their homes worldwide at the end of last year to 65.3 million — the worst refugee crisis in UN history.

It is the first time that the number of refugees worldwide has passed 60 million since the UN was founded in 1945. The figure is greater than the population of Britain.

The UN report, released to coincide with World Refugee Day, estimated that 24 people a minute were forced from their homes last year — 34,000 people a day. Global displacement had doubled since 1997 and risen by 50 per cent since 2011.

“I hope that the message carried by those forcibly displaced reaches the leaderships: we need action, political action, to stop conflicts,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “The message that they have carried is: ‘if you don’t solve problems, problems will come to you’.”

More than half the total number of refugees came from three war-torn countries: Syria, ­Afghanistan and Somalia. More than a million refugees arrived in Europe last year but the UN said 86 per cent of the burden worldwide was being borne by low or middle-income countries close to scenes of conflict.

A UN-led appeal aims for $US4.55 billion ($6.1bn) in funding to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis this year but by April less than a quarter of that had been achieved.

Aid agencies reported that those fleeing Fallujah were already weakened by malnutrition after a long siege and many had been surviving for weeks or months on Euphrates river water and rotting dates used for animal feed.

“On a scale of one to 10 this is somewhere around eight, nine, 10,” said Ralph El Hage, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad.

An organization that I really respect has started raising funds for the refugees, please click here for more information on how to help:

And you can also give to my fundraiser for the Norwegian Refugee Council:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

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Fallujah’s displaced endure ‘inhuman’ conditions

fallujah

Thousands of families who continue to flee Fallujah face a ‘catastrophic’ situation, aid workers say.

That was the headline from an article in Al Jazeera.  And there’s this from UPI:

BAGHDAD, June 22 (UPI) — Families in Iraq who fled fighting in Fallujah are now living in dangerous conditions, with some sleeping in the open desert as food, water and supplies run low.

More than 85,000 people have escaped Fallujah in recent weeks as Iraqi security forces battled to seize control of Iraq’s second-largest city away from the Islamic State. The surge in internally displaced people seeking aid in camps near Fallujah have further strained the supplies of humanitarian agencies.

“Women are sleeping on the bare ground here … My family has been here for five days and we have no water, only one blanket shared by seven people,” Saleh, an Iraqi man from Fallujah, told the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Only today they filled the water tank … why is this happening to us? Let the United Nations help us and come and see how much we are suffering, let them see what we’re going through.”

The surge in fleeing families is attributed to IS militants retreating from checkpoints in the city. The militants killed or captured civilians who attempted to flee Fallujah.

Humanitarian agencies warn temperatures nearing 120 degrees Fahrenheit have threatened the lives of children, pregnant woman, the elderly and disabled people.

Iraqi officials said at least 2,500 Islamic State militants have been killed in the past month since Iraqi security forces began the offensive. At least 4.4 million people in Iraq are internally displaced.

“What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one,” Norwegian Refugee Council Director Nasr Muflahi said in a statement. “The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

Catastrophe…
Humanitarian Disaster…
Nightmare…
Inhuman…

How can we stand by and let this happen?  Please click the link below to help!!:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

The Families of Fallujah Need Help NOW

families fallujah

A “new nightmare” read one headline of an article about the growing humanitarian crisis in Fallujah. Aid workers are increasingly frustrated, and rightly so:

Nasr Muflahi, the director of the NRC’s mission in Iraq, said: “What we’re seeing is the consequence of a delayed and heavily underfunded response with an extreme toll on the civilians fleeing from one nightmare and living through another one.

“The situation is deteriorating by the day and people are going to die in those camps unless essential aid arrives now. Fallujah may have been retaken but its citizens are facing a catastrophe.

“The governments engaged in this battle have the responsibility to provide the funding and the resources needed for the tens of thousands of innocent women, children and men displaced and left out on their own.”

Please donate to the Norwegian Refugee Council through my fundraiser. Click here:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

Please…

 

Families Fleeing Fallujah Face More Hardship

There have been many reports about the civilians trying to flee the fighting in Fallujah. I have read of families drowning as they try to leave the city on makeshift rafts, I have read that now there may be 90,000 civilians trapped inside the city as opposed to the 50,000 originally thought to be there.And I have read that civilians who have managed to escape have been subjected to abuse from the very people who are supposedly there to save them. (This piece from Human Rights Watch outlines the abuses that have been reported).

families fleeing on river in Fallujah

When I started this blog I was outraged by the lack of knowledge about the increase in birth defects and cancers that had occurred after the US invasion. I wanted to bring awareness, and through that awareness some funding to help the families that were coping with the burdens that go along with raising a child with special needs. I also wanted the US to take some responsibility.

Now, these very families are fleeing for their lives, many still trapped inside the city with no food, dirty water, no way out. Others have died trying to escape, or have been beaten. ENOUGH, enough of the suffering!!   I can only hope that their nightmare ends soon, and all I can do is to try to raise funds so that the aid workers at the Norwegian Refugee Council can at least provide food, clean water and shelter. Please click the link below and consider giving what you can:

http://donate.nrc.no/help-children-escaping-war-in-fallujah-now/3-2533

 

 

Please Help the Families of Fallujah

I created a fundraiser through the Norwegian Refugee Council to help the families of Fallujah who are trapped and starving. Please, dear readers of my blog, donate what you can. Thank you.

 

 

Update on Fallujah from the Norwegian Refugee Council

Cries for help from besieged Fallujah

Newly arrived Iraqis from Fallujah on early Thursday morning, 26 May 2016, being received by NRC staff.

Newly arrived Iraqis from Fallujah on early Thursday morning, 26 May 2016, being received by NRC staff.

For months now, Fallujah has been under siege, cut off from aid and essential supplies, but since Iraqi forces launched the military operation to retake the city, up to 50,000 civilians are feared to be trapped and risk getting caught in the crossfire.

“The stocks in the hospitals are running low. There is no medicine for ordinary people. Instead of providing adequate treatment, doctors often simply amputate a patient’s arms or legs if they are in pain. There is no anesthetic left in the hospitals,” says Um Ahmed, who is trapped inside Fallujah together with his family. For months, the residents of the city have been coping with food shortages, lack of electricity, and hospitals have run out of medical supplies to treat the wounded.

“Food is scarce and we have mostly been relying on dates for our meals. Sometimes we burn wood to grill some aubergines over the fire for lunch. The price of vegetables has gone up in the city as a result of the food shortages. It has been seven months since we had sugar or rice. There’s a family who has been giving goats’ milk to their new-born baby, as baby milk is not available,” Ahmed testifies about the critical situation for thousands of civilians in Fallujah.

Not enough drinking water

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is in contact with the people who are trapped inside Fallujah. No families are known to have fled the centre of the city since Monday 23 May. 554 families have managed to escape the areas surrounding the city center and reached displacement camps. The families who arrived over the weekend came from Jumeila, on the outskirts of Fallujah.

“Last night we’ve had the highest number of displaced families reaching us so far. Our resources in the camps are now very strained. With many more expected to flee we might not be able to provide enough drinking water for everyone,” says Nasr Muflahi, NRC’s Country Director in Iraq.

NRC teams are working 24 hours a day in the camps in Amiriyat al Fallujah to receive new arrivals and provide people with food, water and hygiene kits. Al Fallujah Camp, housing 252 families, is already full one day after it opened. A new camp has been opened to take in new arrivals. However, the situation is critical. There is not enough drinking water in the area and summer is around the corner with temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius hitting Iraq.

The Norwegian Refugee Council urges the international community to provide more funding now so that the needs of civilians who manage to flee the intense fighting can be met.

“The priority is providing safe exits for at least 50,000 civilians believed to be trapped in the centre of Fallujah. We expect bigger waves of displacement the fiercer the fighting gets,” says Nasr Muflahi.

First cup of rice in five months

Last week Suad managed to flee Fallujah with her husband Ali — who suffers from physical disability and weak health — and their six children. The family is now staying in Al Iraq camp, 30 kilometers from Fallujah.

“We had our first cup of tea and rice in five months, here in this camp, when we arrived. My children laughed with joy when they saw rice offered to them. My husband Ali needed medical treatment months ago, which he only got now at Amiriyat Al Fallujah hospital”.

Suad is relieved that she and her family have reached the camp safely, in sharp contrast to the thousands of civilians still trapped inside Fallujah amid intense ongoing fighting.

“We feel safe here now. My children are getting food and my husband is getting treatment in hospital. I can’t think of anything beyond that. Arriving here safely was what mattered and it’s a big relief,” Suad says.

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.