Thousands of children at risk as families flee Iraqi city of Mosul: UNICEF
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.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.