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Displaced Iraqis in urgent need of shelters: UNHCR

Posted on Aug 22 2014 | IANS

Geneva, Aug 22 : The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Friday said Iraq's displaced people were in urgent need of shelters.

Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson, said a loaded ship leaving Dubai was due to sail to Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran, Saturday, from where the aid supplies would be loaded onto trucks heading for Erbil in northern Iraq.

Included in the initial aid items are 3,300 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, 18,500 kitchen sets, and 16,500 jerry cans, Xinhua reported.

The refugee official stressed that shelters remained a top priority for those displaced in Iraq given that too many of them were "living in woeful conditions".

Edwards attached particular emphasis to the Kurdistan region, which is now hosting close to 700,000 displaced Iraqis, noting that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled homes and sought refuge there are estimated to be living in unfinished buildings, mosques, churches, parks and schools.

He added that half of over 5,700 schools in that region are now sheltering displaced people or the military, casting shadows over whether these will be able to open as scheduled for the new school year in early September.

Another pressing issue for those internally displaced Iraqis was that many families did not possess key civil documents, which hampered their access to free movement and registration for aids and cash assistance.

Moreover, there was also an urgent need to strengthen psychological services for the displaced people, many of whom were deeply traumatised.

It was estimated that internally displaced Iraqis have reached 1.2 million so far this year, including some 600,000 people uprooted by the Anbar province crisis which began in January, and 600,000 displaced from conflicts in and around Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, and more recently Sinjar, since August.

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