More people flee as fighting continues in Iraq's Anbar provinceListen /
Escalating violence in the Anbar province in Iraq has led to more civilians being forced to flee their homes and has made it increasingly more difficult for aid agencies to reach those most in need.
The Iraqi government puts the number of people who have fled their homes since fighting escalated between government forces and rebels in January this year at 434,000. However, the United Nations Refugee Agency, (UNHCR) says it believes the current figure is now close to 480,000.
Spokesperson for UNHCR, Adrian Edwards, says that the situation is becoming more and more difficult.
"UNHCR's field teams are reporting that many of the displaced people are now struggling to cope. There are desperate conditions amongst this population. The highest concentrations are in the Anbar and Salah al-Din governorates, followed by Erbil, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah and Baghdad. The more fortunate are living with friends and relatives, others though are in tents, schools, unfinished buildings and other types of communal shelter." (25″)
UNHCR has distributed emergency relief kits to more than 40,000 people and emergency cash assistance to 2,500 people but says that this is a fraction of what is needed. An appeal for US$ 26.4 million, launched by the Refugee Agency in March, is currently only 12% funded.
Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.