Military operations displace 35,000 Iraqis over weekend — UN

Military operations displace 35,000 Iraqis over weekend — UN

UNITED NATIONS — Military operations in Iraq’s Anbar Governorate have displaced around 35,000 people since March 11, a UN spokesman told reporters here Monday.

People are fleeing areas in the center of the governorate, including Kabissa, Heet, Al-Asriya village and Al-Saghriya village, and moving to areas west of Ramadi, in search of safety, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing.

“The (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that most people have reportedly fled with few belongings and need shelter, basic household items, food and water. More than 12,000 of those people have received humanitarian aid as of yesterday,” he added.

Overall, approximately 53,500 people have been displaced in Anbar since military operations escalated at the end of December, said the spokesman. “With funding insufficient to meet more than the basic needs of people, most of the displaced are being hosted in overcrowded camps and temporary settlements in eastern Anbar locations.”

The United Nations and its partners have appealed for USD 861 million to provide emergency relief in 2016, of which only 9 percent, USD 74 million in total, has so far been received.

The Iraqi military operations in Anbar, Iraq’s largest province recently recaptured by Iraqi army from the Islamic State, is intended to build on gains in the west of the country.

Last month, Iraqi and coalition forces declared the western city of Ramadi fully-liberated. Afterward, Iraqi forces continued to clear villages in the area, most recently Zangura and Qariya Asriya northwest of the provincial capital, Ar Ramadi. This week, Iraqi forces evacuated more than a thousand people from the two villages being held as hostages by the Islamic State.

Anbar Governorate shares borders with Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. PNA/Xinhua/