Iraqi despair could turn to "bigger exodus", warns top UN aid coordinator

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John Ging. UN File Photo/Mark Garten

An "even bigger exodus" of desperate Iraqis is possible if funding cannot be found to help them out of an increasingly dire humanitarian situation, a top UN aid official warned on Wednesday.

John Ging, who's in charge of coordinating field operations worldwide, said that more than 10 million Iraqis urgently need assistance in the conflict-ravaged country.

To date, however, the UN appeal for US$861 million for Iraq is just 15 per cent funded.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

Just back from Iraq, UN aid coordinator John Ging was adamant that what the country needs is a "hand up, not a hand out".

That assessment comes after he visited some of the 2.4 million displaced people inside Iraq.

He said that their savings are exhausted and that they've had to move into a growing number of temporary camps; there are now 3,700 of them.

"The Iraqi authorities in Baghdad and also in Erbil were impressing on me the urgency to be able to provide those vital humanitarian support because otherwise we will face an even bigger exodus."

Iraqis now make up the third highest number of refugees reaching Europe which John Ging said was an indication of their level of despair.

He described the overall humanitarian situation in Iraq as "ever more dire" but insisted that the country's future could be turned around with international help and funding.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’01″

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