2 June 2016
Tens of thousands of people are trapped inside the Iraqi city of Fallujah this week by fierce fighting. As fears grow for their safety, the Red Cross is supporting 850 families who fled to a safe area about 30 kilometres away.
About 650 families are staying in ‘Camp Iraq’, which was set up to host them. Another 200 families are living with relatives in the area.
The Red Cross works with the Iraqi Red Crescent to provide hot meals and relief supplies at two nearby centres. Many more people are expected to flee Fallujah so we are preparing additional aid to meet the needs of 2,500 families.
Since the conflict in Iraq escalated in December 2013, humanitarian agencies report that 3.4 million people have had to flee their homes. On top of this, there are 250,000 Syrian refugees living in the country.
Civilians must be protected
The Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations cannot currently access Fallujah.
Katharina Ritz of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq said: “Civilians must be spared and allowed to leave Fallujah safely.
“The people of Fallujah have already suffered enormously as a result of relentless fighting in the area. Humanitarian agencies must be given access to reach them and provide relief.”
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are visiting families in Camp Iraq to offer psychological and social support to help them through this difficult situation. We have also brought ambulances to the area to serve the increasing population there.
Abu Assad, who fled his home in Fallujah because of the fighting said: “The humanitarian situation in the city was horrendous.
“Thank God we were able to leave our village and come to this safe place.”
Numbers needing support are growing
In Iraq, the Red Cross and Red Crescent prioritise giving help to areas and people who have not received emergency support from another humanitarian organisation. We also focus on those who have just fled their homes, including these families from Fallujah.
This year, we have provided emergency relief to more than 3,500 people in this situation.
Conditions are expected to get worse this summer when temperatures can reach over 50 degrees.
Last year, our staff and volunteers ensured that over two million people had clean water, and provided food and other essentials, such as blankets and cooking tools, to 1,350,000 people. The emergency relief package includes rice, beans, canned food, tea, cooking oil, and other food items.
Michael van Koesveld, Iraq country manager for the British Red Cross, said: “The Red Cross refuses to ignore people in crisis. Thanks to donations from the public to the Iraq crisis appeal, we will be increasing our support to Iraq this year.
“We stand ready to help more people who have had to flee their homes in Fallujah and other areas because of conflict.”