UN refugee agency relief operation starts in northern Iraq

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The UNHCR-chartered Boeing 747 disgorges its vital cargo of aid after landing at Erbil in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. © UNHCR

The first flight of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) carrying relief supplies landed in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Wednesday at the start of a massive humanitarian operation in the region.

UNHCR says the operation in northern Iraq is aimed at helping almost half a million people displaced by violence and living rough in unfinished buildings, parks or by the roadside.

The agency reports that a cargo transport aircraft from Amman, Jordan, has delivered thousands of tents, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and jerry cans to Erbil.

Adrian Edwards is the UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva.

"This will be followed by road convoys from Turkey and Jordan and sea and land shipments from Dubai via Iran over the next ten days. The major focus is on improving living conditions for the displaced in the region, particularly people without shelter or housing. Conditions remain desperate for those without access to suitable shelter, people struggling to find food and water to feed their families, and those without access to primary medical care." (26")

UNHCR says that once on the ground, many of the airlifted tents will go to camps that are currently being expanded or constructed for the displaced people in the Dohuk governorate.

It estimates that across Iraq, 1.2 million people have been displaced so far this year.

They include more than 500,000 who fled fighting in the Anbar region which began in January and over 600,000 displaced from conflicts in and around Mosul since June, the agency adds.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations

Duration: 1’43″

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