UNHCR warns of Funding Crunch as Thousands Flee Falluja

With tens of thousands of civilians pouring out of the embattled Iraqi city of Falluja in recent days, US$17.5 million is urgently needed to meet their immediate needs, the UN Refugee Agency said today.

More than 85,000 people have fled Falluja and the surrounding area since a government military offensive to retake the city from extremists began a month ago, on May 23.

About 60,000 of these fled over a period of just three days last week, between 15 to 18 June. Thousands more could still be planning to leave the city, UNHCR spokeswoman Ariane Rummery told a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday (June 21).

“The funds are desperately needed to expand the number of camps and to provide urgently needed relief supplies for displaced people who have already endured months of deprivation and hardship without enough food or medicine,” Rummery stressed. “We also need funds to provide psycho-social and other support to this exhausted and deeply traumatised population.”

UNHCR and its partners have been providing tents and relief aid to displaced families in Amiriyat al Falluja, Al Khalidiya and Habbaniyah Tourist City (HTC) – all within 20 to 30 kilometres of Falluja. But with last week's surge in arrivals the overcrowding is growing, Rummery said.

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