After the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) assaulted and took over the city of Mosul, hundreds of thousands of residents fled the war zone. Grabbing what few belongings they could carry they were forced to set out in the scorching heat of Iraq. Many have arrived at the Kalak Transit Camp, between Mosul and the northern city of Erbil.
Ertharin Cousin, the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) director, just visited this camp to assess the dire humanitarian situation. WFP is in leading the hunger relief mission for around 500,000 Iraqis as a result of the ISIS attacks. Cousin said yesterday,
“Yet again, another humanitarian crisis hits war-torn Iraq, disproportionately and negatively impacting the hungry poor. The most vulnerable and poorest families have already experienced their share of tragedy over the last few years. Many are displaced in very harsh conditions. Lack of services, support and insecurity is forcing them to move around – in too many cases making these families difficult to reach.”
What the international community must do is ensure that malnutrition and disease do not overtake the Iraqi war victims. Malnutrition is a silent product of war, but can be the most deadly. If small children become malnourished, they will suffer lasting physical and mental damage. They may even perish. Iraq is under threat of a generation of children should conflict persist.
The UN Food and Agriculture branch is reporting that the conflict is already taking its toll on food production. The governorates at the center of the fighting are major crop growing areas. The harvesting of wheat is expected to be impacted. This will have serious lasting implications going forward for the people of Iraq.
Aid agencies need funding to carry out their relief work. WFP needs $ US 88 million for the latest Iraqi emergency. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary funding.
As ISIS continues its fight against the Iraqi government, humanitarian needs will also increase. Since January over one million Iraqis have been displaced by violence between the government and rebels.
It’s critical to keep in mind that WFP is also feeding over seven million impacted by the war in Syria. This includes Syrians who have fled to northern Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. WFP is facing low funding for the Syrian relief mission as well. In addition, there is the threat of famine in South Sudan and Central African Republic, which is requiring massive resources.