NEW YORK (August 19, 2013) - As thousands of refugees flood into Iraq’s northern Kurdish region from the on-going violence in Syria, UNICEF and partners are rushing to meet their urgent needs. Some 20,000 Syrians have crossed through Peshkhabour into northern Iraq’s Duhok governorate since Thursday, with the influx expected to continue over the coming days.
"Our staff at the Peshkhabour crossing point in northern Iraq say many of the new arrivals are exhausted and in urgent need of water and shelter as summer temperatures reach [113 degrees Fahrenheit]," said Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF's Representative to Iraq. "Along with our partners, we are doing everything possible to ensure all needs of these new arrivals are immediately met."
UNICEF and a local partner have distributed more than 125,000 liters of bottled water, along with four tankers of safe water to cover additional needs, at Peshkhabour since Thursday. UNICEF is providing support at the crossing point to ensure unaccompanied and separated children are identified, registered and provided with all necessary support. In addition, UNICEF has procured 60,000 liters of bottled water and 20,000 biscuits for children under the age of five to be distributed to refugees sheltered at the Kawargosh transit site near Erbil.
The vast majority of those crossing are children, women and elderly people. Many have camped in tents by the river for the past few days waiting for the crossing point to open.
UNICEF, along with UNHCR and the Kurdistan Regional Government, have identified water, sanitation facilities, shaded areas, and health services, as urgent needs families require while they wait for registration and transportation to transit sites.
Local authorities are providing emergency health services at Peshkhabour and have made hundreds of buses available to transport refugees to Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimanyah.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org