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UN warns of Iraqi aid cut, one year after capture of Mosul

12 June 2015


Resistance: Iraqis from factions including Kurdish and Yazidi groups, train to fight against IS, near Mosul,  in March

Resistance: Iraqis from factions including Kurdish and Yazidi groups, train to fight against IS, near Mosul,  in March

A YEAR after Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, fell to Islamic State (IS) fighters, and the rapid expansion of the jihadists through the north of the country began, three million Iraqis are still homeless, and eight million are in urgent need of aid.

The UN says that a chronic shortage of funds means that more than half the relief operations in Iraq may be forced to close in the coming weeks.

Kathleen Rutledge is the Middle East Response Director of the Christian aid organisation Tearfund, which is launching an emergency appeal (www.tearfund.org/iraqappeal). She says that, because attention is focused "on the militants, and the response against them, we are at risk of forgetting the families who have lost everything they have in this crisis".

Christians and Yazidis are among those who left their homes when the IS forces began taking over towns and cities.

"People who fled atrocities last summer are still stuck in a state of limbo, living in tents and unfinished buildings, desperately hoping for news of loved ones held captive," Ms Rutledge says. "Many of them are educated people who had jobs and a decent standard of living, but now they have no way of providing for themselves, and are forced to depend on outside support."

Khalil, from Sinjar, who is now living in the Kurdish region of Iraq, told Tearfund that he was a trained accountant. Over several years, he and his brother had built their own house. Then IS came, "and destroyed it in one minute. I cried when we left our home.

"We spend our days just sitting, not working. We have no income, and cannot make plans for the future. The situation in Iraq is a bad one. I lost relatives, and still don't know what happened to them."

The director of a local partner of Tearfund that is helping displaced families, Archdeacon Emmanuel Youkhana, of the Assyrian Church of the East, says: "The damage is beyond material. You feel the people are collapsed from inside."

The UN has launched a new appeal for nearly $500 million (about £327 million). The UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, says that the appeal is in response to critical funding shortages as the conflict in Iraq escalates. The number of people in need of life-saving assistance over the past year has increased by some 400 per cent.

The latest appeal, Ms Grande says, "includes only the bare - literally, the bare - minimum requirements" to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of the more than eight million people in every "single one of Iraq's 18 provinces", including some three million internally displaced people. It is estimated that 1.7 million more may need life-saving assistance before the end of 2015.

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