The United Nations refugee agency said today that it is launching one of its largest humanitarian aid pushes in response to the deteriorating situation in Iraq, aiming to help close to a half million people who had been forced to flee their homes.
Barring last minute delays, an air, road and sea operation will begin tomorrow with a four-day airlift from Aqaba in Jordan to Erbil in Iraq. This will be followed by road convoys from Turkey and Jordan, and sea and land shipments from Dubai via Iran over the next 10 days.
“The major focus is on improving living conditions for the displaced in the region, particularly people without shelter or housing,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Conditions remain desperate for those without access to suitable shelter, people struggling to find food and water to feed their families, and those without access to primary medical care.
“Many are still coming to grips with the tragedy they’ve been through in recent weeks – fleeing homes with nothing, and many trying to cope with the loss of loved ones. Emergency support is an urgent need that we are trying to meet,” he told reporters in Geneva.
Included in the initial aid shipments are 3,300 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, 18,500 kitchen sets, and 16,500 jerry cans. This assistance and further aid deliveries is being made possible thanks to a recent $500 million donation from Saudi Arabia, as well as support from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and global retailer IKEA – a UNHCR corporate partner.