Oxfam has sent a team of regional experts to Iraq to set up an aid programme to help thousands of people forced to flee their homes due to the violence rocking the country.
Oxfam Humanitarian Program Coordinator Richard Simpson said the team would initially be based in the Kurdistan region of Irbil, northern Iraq, where thousands of civilians sought refuge after armed groups took control of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.
“Oxfam has sent a team of seven humanitarian response experts to the region to assess the urgent needs of displaced populations and establish how to best coordinate their response with other local and international agencies,” Mr Simpson said.
“Over 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of ongoing fighting across Northern, Western and Central Iraq. Further political instability and conflict will likely result in large internal displacement, as well as refugees fleeing to Lebanon and Jordan.”
“There is an immediate need to make sure people have a roof over their heads, food and essential services, such as water and sanitation.”
Mr Simpson welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement of $5million in assistance to UN agencies to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, but said further international assistance was needed in the region.
“This timely response was a welcome sign of continued Australian commitment to provide humanitarian aid beyond our region to where it is most urgently needed around the world.”
“The situation in Iraq is closely tied to the ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria, where millions of people remain in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 200,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Iraq, and now with the current crisis and mass displacement, humanitarian needs are only increasing.”
Oxfam is currently responding to the crisis in Syria, as well as supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
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