The UN warns that civilians in Fallujah are at extreme risk and need urgent help
The United Nations is receiving reports that humanitarian conditions in Fallujah are worsening and human suffering increasing. Under control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since early 2014, civilians are at extreme risk. With the siege of Fallujah tightening, supplies are not reaching civilians. There are credible reports from key informants that people wanting to leave the city and seek safety are unable to do so.
“We are profoundly worried about Fallujah. There are reports of widespread food shortages and lack of medicines”, said Lise Grande, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “We don’t have access to the city, but we have to assume based on what we are hearing that people are in terrible trouble”.
In late March, the Government of Iraq informed the United Nations that it intended to open safe corridors to allow civilians to exit the city.
“Fallujah is an active conflict zone. We have received reports that ISIL has killed civilians attempting to leave and controls potential escape routes. We have also received reports that the little food and medicines available have been used for ISIL fighters, denying civilians the support they need to survive. With so much at stake, all parties to the conflict have to do everything possible to protect civilians and respect their right to receive life-saving humanitarian support”, said Ms. Grande.
Humanitarian partners continue to engage with civil and military authorities to find the best ways to reach civilians in areas under siege. “We are ready to respond to help people in need. We are scaling up, pre-positioning stocks and expanding our assistance in the sites where displaced people may go”, said Ms. Grande. “Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped and under siege in Iraq. People trying to flee conflict areas in search of safety are often held-up or prevented from moving. This is wrong−civilians have the right to protection and help”.
The United Nations estimates that 10 million people in Iraq need some form of humanitarian assistance including 3.4 million people who have been displaced since January 2014. An estimated 3 million people are living under ISIL control. More than 540,000 people have returned to their homes. Only 20 per cent of the humanitarian appeal for 2016 has been funded.