Shelter Needs Acute in Northern Iraq

As the UN refugee agency continues a major aid operation for almost half a million displaced people in northern Iraq, pressure on accommodation remains acute. "Many schools are still being used to house the displaced. In addition, there is urgent need to reinforce tents and other housing in preparation for the coming winter," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

UNHCR's air, road and sea aid push launched on August 20 has included tents, but more are needed. Over the next few days 10 further aid flights will be arriving at Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan, where an estimated 850,000 people have sought safety after fleeing their homes.

The new airlift, supported by the people and government of Norway, will bring close to 40,000 blankets, 10,000 kitchen sets, and almost 18,000 plastic sheets. Since mid-June, UNHCR and its partners have provided more than 100,000 mattresses, 10,000 family tents and 40,000 jerry cans and tens of thousands of other items.

"At present, new displacement has diminished. However, with ongoing fighting in Ninewa, Diyala, Anbar, and Saladin governorates, the situation remains unpredictable," Edwards said. "Aid needs remain far-reaching; in addition to shelter and emergency items – food, medical care and education are priorities," he added.

UNHCR is also supporting displaced people in central and southern Iraq, "where we have reached nearly 120,000 people across 15 governorates since January. Emergency aid kits, have been pre-positioned in case of further need in Amerli in Salah al-Din governorate," Edwards said.

At present there are eight camps across Iraq, housing close to 40,000 displaced people. UNHCR is providing help, including tents and emergency aid. Nineteen other camps are under consideration, being designed and constructed by regional authorities and aid agencies. UNHCR is supporting some of that work. The agency will also be providing tents, emergency aid and protection support as needed.

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