Iraq's displacement crisis deepens

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Photo: UNHCR/R. Nuri

Nearly 400,000 Iraqis mainly from minority groups have now been displaced in the north-western parts of the country, escaping violence unleashed by the militant group Islamic State, according to the UN Refugee agency UNHCR.

The majority of the displaced are hosted in the Dohuk governorate of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

UNHCR says the displaced are scattered across hundreds of sites including churches, mosques, parks and abandoned apartment buildings or hosted by relatives.

The agency says up to 30,000 people remain trapped on Sinjar mountain without food, water or shelter.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards says those who have managed to escape Sinjar mountains are arriving exhausted and dehydrated, with many having suffered sun or heat stroke due to high temperatures.

"The people who fled Sinjar are arriving in worsening conditions by the day. They have been exposed to this environment, lack of water immense difficulties of existing up there for some time now and their needs are very great indeed. That's why the focus is really is on trying to get help as rapidly as we can to people who are arriving to the transit sites and also in other locations across Dohuk."

There are more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Iraq, including an estimated 700,000 in the Kurdistan region which already hosts some 220,000 Syrian refugees.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

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