Stephen O’Brien, the new European Union’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (USG) and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), called for greater assistance for millions of people across Iraq following a two-day visit to the country.
“It’s imperative at this critical time we do more to mitigate the suffering of the Iraqi people. Much has been done, but the needs continue to increase and more is needed,” said USG O’Brien.
The humanitarian situation in Iraq is dire. Since January 2014, more than three million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes and over eight million people are in need of assistance. Aid agencies urgently need access to vulnerable people in need as well as funding for critical relief work.
On his first mission as ERC, Mr. O’Brien visited Baghdad on 8 June, where he met people recently displaced from Ramadi. On 9 June, exactly one year to the day after Mosul fell, causing mass displacement, he also visited a camp for internally displaced people in Erbil. The ERC also visited refugees from Syria.
“All the families I spoke with had heartbreaking stories of fear, flight, loss and grief. International humanitarian law obliges all those engaged in fighting to protect civilians during hostilities, including by refraining from targeting them,” said USG O’Brien.
During his meetings, USG O’Brien discussed progress and challenges in delivering aid with representatives of the national Government in Baghdad, including H.E President Fuad Masum, H.E. Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al Jafaari and other senior officials.
In Erbil, he held similar discussions with Kurdistan Regional Government officials, including H.E. Prime Minister Nichirvan Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubud Talabani, Minister of Interior, Mr. Karim Sinjari, and Minister of Planning, Dr. Ali Sindi and other senior officials.