Iraq: UN refugee agency launches major aid push for displaced

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On World Humanitarian Day, the UN refugee agency has announced a major aid operation to help some half a million people displaced by fighting in northern Iraq.

An airlift of vital supplies to Irbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region, will start on Wednesday from the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Road convoys from Jordan and Turkey and sea shipments from Dubai via Iran will follow.

“This is a very, very significant aid push and certainly one of the largest I can recall in quite a while,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva.

“This is a major humanitarian crisis and disaster. It continues to affect many people.”

Visiting Baghdad, the EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, has no doubt about the scale of this crisis.

“In response, we in the European Union continue to mobilise more funding to help all Iraqis, all Iraqis affected by fighting wherever they are,” she told a news conference, standing alongside Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Iraq’s acting Foreign Minister Hussain al-Shahristani.

“Just last week, the European Commission provided an additional five million euros, bringing our funding to 17 million euros for now.”

The UNHCR’s main focus is on improving living conditions for the displaced, many of whom are still sheltering in schools, mosques, churches and unfinished buildings, having fled their own homes with nothing.

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