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Humanitarian Disaster strikes Fallujah: About 60,000 people flee to escape IS-held city in Iraq

Iraqi fighters face snipers and bombs as they fight to eliminate IS militants from the city they have held for more than two years

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Iraqi soldiers help civilians, who fled from Falluja because of Islamic State violence, during a dust storm on the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters
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  • The number of people who have managed to leave the city has topped 60,000
  • People from Fallujah have managed to find refuge in warehouses or mosques as refugee camps become full
  • PM Haider al Abadi declared the Iraqi forces had been victorious in their fight to take control of the city

Exhausted, hungry and desperate, 30,000 people have poured out of Fallujah in the past three days as Iraqi forces stormed into the center of the city, pushing Islamic State fighters into the northwest of the city.

Despite the searing Iraqi summer heat, many of those who have escaped are sleeping out in the open as refugee camps are now full. Others have managed to find refuge in warehouses or mosques.

Norwegian Refugee Council staff provide drinking water for Iraqis from Fallujah at Amariyat al-Fallujah displacement camp. Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC. Image source: Reuters
Norwegian Refugee Council staff provide drinking water for Iraqis from Fallujah at Amariyat al-Fallujah displacement camp. Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC. Image source: Reuters

The number of people who have managed to leave the city has topped 60,000.

Appeal to government

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is providing emergency food rations and bottled water to thousands of people, said the sheer numbers and a lack of camp coordination has made it difficult to reach all the newly arrived families.

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“We implore the Iraqi government to take charge of this humanitarian disaster unfolding on our watch,” said NRC Country Director Nasr Muflahi in a statement.

Iraqi army soldiers hold Iraqi flag on a top of a military vehicle in the centre of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters
Iraqi army soldiers hold Iraqi flag on a top of a military vehicle in the centre of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters

“We cannot continue to provide aid when we do not even know who is where and what they need,” Muflahi said.

Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared the Iraqi forces had been victorious in their fight to take control of the city.

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But in Fallujah, Iraqi fighters face snipers and bombs as they fight to eliminate IS militants from the city they have held for more than two years.

Some militants reportedly have sent their wives and children out of the city with the refugees. (VOA)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If the UN cannot do anything about this, there should be people from other countries who should take this initiative and ask their governments to help our fellow Syrian brothers and sisters.

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Iraq lifts ban on international flights to Kurdish airports

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Haider al-Abadi issues a statement lifting ban of international flights on international airports. IANS
Haider al-Abadi issues a statement lifting ban of international flights on international airports. IANS
  • Iraq lifts the ban on international flights to Kurdish airports
  • Prime minister, Haider al-Abadi issues a statement
  • He also talked about security o the airports

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday lifted a ban on international flights to two airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

A statement by his office said Abadi signed a decree to lift the ban after receiving positive response from the Kurdish local authorities “to restore the federal authority in the two airports in accordance with the Constitution of Iraq”.

Also Read: US Backtracks on Iraqi, Kurd Cease-fire Claim

Abadi made the announcement during his meeting with the officers of the regional Interior Ministry who were working at the two airports, Xinhua news agency cited the statement as saying.

He also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.

All the regional airports and border crossings will be linked directly to the main control system in Baghdad, similar to what is done in the other Iraqi airports and crossing, the statement said.

He also talked about the security of airports.

The passports and national ID offices and the employees at the airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah will also be linked to the federal Interior Ministry, it added.

Tensions rose between Baghdad and the region of Kurdistan after the Kurds held a controversial referendum last September to approve the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

The Iraqi government later imposed the flights ban on the Kurdish region as part of a package of punitive measures that also included blocking all the border crossings outside the federal control.

The ban on international flights on the region’s international airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah forced passengers to apply for an Iraqi visa to transit through Baghdad and Basra international airports to go or leave the Kurdish region.

The independence of Kurdistan is opposed not only by the Iraqi central government, but also by other countries as it would threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq and undermine the fight against the terror group Islamic State.

Iraq’s neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, Iran and Syria, fear that the Iraqi Kurds’ pursuit of independence threatens their own territorial integrity by inspiring the Kurdish population in those countries to seek independence. IANS