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UNICEF and Partners Rush to Provide Assistance as Thousands of Syrians Cross Border Into Northern Iraq

2013-08-21

ERBIL, Iraq, August 19, 2013 - As thousands of Syrians flood into Iraq fleeing from the ongoing violence in Syria, UNICEF and partners are rushing to meet their urgent needs.

The recently constructed pontoon bridge at Peshkhabour in northern Iraq's Duhok governorate saw over 20,000 Syrians cross the Tigris river since Thursday with the influx expected to continue over the coming days.

"Our staff at the Peshkhabour crossing point in northern Iraq say many of the new arrivals are exhausted and in urgent need of water and shelter as summer temperatures reach 45C," said UNICEF's Representative to Iraq, Dr. Marzio Babille. "Along with our partners, we are doing everything possible to ensure all needs of these new arrivals are immediately met."

Thus far, UNICEF and local partner Harikar, have distributed more than 125,000 litres of bottled water at Peshkhabour since Thursday, and 4 tankers of safe water to cover additional needs.

UNICEF and the local Department of Social Affairs and ACTED are also supporting UNHCR and IRC at the crossing point to ensure unaccompanied and separated children are identified, registered and provided with all necessary support.

UNICEF has also procured 60,000 litres of bottled water and 20,000 biscuits for under-5 children to be distributed amongst the around 3000 refugees sheltered at the Kawargosh transit site near Erbil.

The vast majority of those crossing are children, women and elderly persons with many having camped in tents by the river for the past few days waiting for the crossing point to open.

UNICEF, along with UNHCR and the Kurdistan Regional Government, have identified water, sanitation facilities, shaded areas and health services as urgent needs families require while they wait for registration and transportation to transit sites.

Local authorities are providing emergency health services at Peshkhabour and made hundreds of buses available to transport refugees onwards to Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimanyah.

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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.

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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.