UNHCR launches humanitarian aid programme in Iraq
Posted on Aug 20 2014 | IANS
Geneva, Aug 19 : The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Tuesday launched a major humanitarian aid scheme for Iraq's nearly half a million internally displaced people.
Adrian Edwards, spokesman of the UNHCR, told a press conference that the air, road and sea operation, due to start Wednesday, will begin with a four-day airlift using Boeing 747s from Aqaba in Jordan to Erbil in northern Iraq, Xinhua reported.
The agency will also send road convoys from Turkey and Jordan, and sea and land shipments from Dubai via Iran over the next 10 days.
The initial aid shipments included 3,300 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, 18,500 kitchen sets, and 16,500 jerry cans, said Edwards.
The major focus of the aid operation was to improve living conditions for the displaced in the region, particularly people without shelter or housing, the UN agency said.
Some 200,000 Iraqi people have made their way to Iraqi's Kurdistan since early August, when the city of Sinjar and neighbouring areas were seized by armed groups, according to the UNHCR.
The Islamic State militants in past few weeks have stormed towns in the northern part of the country.
Thousands of civilians - many of them from the ethnic Yazidi minority - are trapped in the Sinjar mountains where they took shelter and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance after fleeing attacks.
According to the the agency's estimate, in all there are more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Iraq, including an estimated 700,000 in the Kurdistan region which already hosts some 225,000 Syrian refugees.