NEW YORK (June 11, 2014) – Around 500,000 people, up to half of them children, have been forced to flee their homes since violence erupted on June 5 in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to authorities, and the violence is spreading.
“The situation facing children is extremely alarming. Their lives have been shattered almost overnight by the escalating violence,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.
Thousands of children have taken refuge in schools, hospitals and mosques outside Mosul, many of them without adequate water, sanitation, or shelter from the scorching heat. Inside Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, UNICEF has received reports that none of the five hospitals is functioning. Shops and markets are closed.
“The situation is dire and is worsening by the moment,” Babille said. “We have to reach children with safe water, shelter, food, and protection. They cannot wait.”
UNICEF is working with partners to meet the rapidly rising needs of displaced families and children, and of those who remain behind. Immediate priorities include safe drinking water; appropriate sanitation facilities; and emergency immunization critical to preventing the spread of diseases, including polio, which has re-appeared in Iraq this year, and measles.
UNICEF’s emergency appeal for Iraq was only 16 percent funded even before the violence erupted last week. The rapidly deepening crisis will greatly increase the need for humanitarian assistance and funding.
“This is an emergency on top of an emergency in Iraq—coming on the heels of other internal displacements of children and families in Anbar, as well as Syrian refugees in the north,” Babille said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 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 additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org