The top United Nations relief official chief today released $15 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide urgent life-saving assistance for people affected by the recent fighting and military operations in Fallujah.
“People escaping Fallujah are in desperate need of assistance now, this minute. We must act fast before this situation becomes a humanitarian catastrophe. These funds are time critical; however they only offer a small portion of what is urgently needed,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, in a statement issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“I call on donors to immediately support our humanitarian response and leverage this CERF allocation with additional resources so that together we can effectively address the growing humanitarian needs throughout Iraq,” he added.
Since this past month, more than 85,000 people have been forced to flee the city, displacing families from their homes, communities and livelihoods. Those remaining in the city face dire shortages of food, medicine, electricity and safe drinking water, OCHA said.
“The families who have managed to flee Fallujah have escaped with nothing: they need everything,” warned Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
“Humanitarian partners are working around the clock to provide shelter, water, health care, household kits and specialized support for the victims of gender and sexual-based violence. This CERF grant will allow us to rapidly scale up our efforts, so it could not be more timely,” she added.
Temperatures in the region are averaging 115 degrees Fahrenheit and rising. Many people are unable to access clean drinking water, and shade is limited, while already vulnerable communities are more susceptible to outbreaks of communicable diseases and there is a real risk of a cholera outbreak, OCHA said.
Response efforts will include improvements to hygiene and sanitation in order to help prevent the spread of disease.