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Thousands of children at risk as families flee Iraqi city of Mosul: UNICEF

2014-06-12

NEW YORK/AMMAN/BAGHDAD, 11 June 2014 – Around 500,000 people, up to half of them children, have been forced to flee their homes since violence erupted on 5 June in the Iraqi city of Mosul, authorities say, and the violence is spreading.

“The situation facing children is extremely alarming. Their lives have been shattered almost overnight by the escalating violence,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. 

Thousands of children have taken refuge in schools, hospitals and mosques outside Mosul, many of them without adequate water, sanitation, or shelter from the scorching heat. Inside Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, UNICEF has received reports that none of the five hospitals is functioning.  Shops and markets are closed.

“The situation is dire and is worsening by the moment,” Babille said.  “We have to reach children with safe water, shelter, food, and protection – they cannot wait.”

UNICEF is working with partners to meet the rapidly rising needs of displaced families and children, and of those who remain behind. Immediate priorities include safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation facilities, and emergency immunization so crucial to preventing the spread of diseases, including polio, which has re-appeared in Iraq this year, and measles.

UNICEF’s emergency appeal for Iraq even before the violence erupted last week was only 16 per cent funded.  The rapidly deepening crisis will greatly increase the need for humanitarian assistance and funding.

“This is an emergency on top of an emergency in Iraq – coming on the heels of other internal displacements of children and families in Anbar, as well as Syrian refugees in the north,” Babille said.

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For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.