Millions of Iraqis need greater assistance, says UN official

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New UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Stephen O'Brien (second right), in Erbil during a two-day visit to Iraq. Photo: UNAMI PIO/Fabienne Vinet

Millions of Iraqis affected by the conflict between government forces and the terrorist group ISIL need greater assistance.

That's what the head of the UN Office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA), Stephen O'Brien said on Wednesday following a two-day visit to the country.

Dianne Penn reports.

Stephen O'Brien, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs has concluded a visit to Iraq where he met with some of the victims of the ongoing conflict there.

Mr O'Brien said that it is imperative at this critical time to do more to mitigate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Since January 2014, more than three million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes and more than eight million people are in need of assistance.

The head of OCHA said aid agencies urgently need access to vulnerable people in need, as well as funding for critical relief work.

Stéphane Dujarric is UN Spokesperson.

"Mr O'Brien said that all the families he spoke with had heart-breaking stories of fear, flight, loss and grief. International humanitarian law obliges all those engaged in fighting to protect civilians during hostilities, including [by] not targeting them. He said that the United Nations is working to ensure emergency assistance is provided wherever it is needed in Iraq."

The UN says it urgently needs US$497 million to provide shelter, food, water and other life-saving services over the coming six months.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.


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