“Life-saving aid” rushed to thousands amid fight for Iraq

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World Food Programme is helping with the aid effort in Iraq. © WFP/Mohammed Albahbahani

Heavy fighting between Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Islamic State has forced thousands of families into Samarra District with little more than what they're wearing, the UN says.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has responded by organising food and medicines for the displaced people.

But there are growing concerns about the humanitarian situation there, as Daniel Johnson reports.

The push to drive Islamic State fighters out of Iraq has forced thousands of families from their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs, prompting an emergency UN aid effort.

Approximately 4,000 people are in urgent need of help in Samarra District, south of the key IS-held town of Tikrit, 150 miles north of Baghdad.

The former stronghold of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein has been in the hands of IS since last June.

David Swanson, from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the newly displaced were extremely vulnerable.

He added that 15,000 people had already fled to Samarra.

Here's Mr Swanson speaking from Iraq; because of the poor sound quality, we've dubbed his comments:

"The exact number of newly displaced remains unclear and the situation is largely fluid; we estimate that approximately 4,000 families are in immediate need of support, including food, shelter and medical supplies…many of them fleeing with very little than the clothes on their backs"

Described as a life-saving operation, the aid effort involves four UN agencies including UNICEF, which on Tuesday sent enough water and sanitation supplies for 24,000 people.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration: 1’06″

 

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