UN: 85,000 flee Ramadi since Daesh takeover
People displaced by violence in Ramadi wait to cross Bzeibez bridge into Baghdad, May 20 2015. (AFP/Sabah Arar)
Around 85,000 people have fled Ramadi since Daesh overtook the Iraqi city two weeks ago, the UN said Friday.
Daesh militants seized Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, on May 17. The capture marked the militant group’s most significant victory since they took the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014.
UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said on Friday that around 85,000 people have fled violence in Ramadi since mid-May and over 180,000 have been displaced from the city and its outskirts since early April, reported AFP.
Those displaced by violence in Ramadi have faced difficulties finding safe haven. The surrounding Babylon and Kerbala provinces have been closed to displaced people from Anbar, Spindler said. Around 85 percent of people who have fled Ramadi still remain in Anbar province.
Bzeibez bridge, which connects Anbar to Baghdad, has remained closed for days, leaving thousands of displaced people stranded. The bridge reopened Tuesday, but there are still many hurdles in place for people hoping to relocate to Baghdad. “Requirements for displaced people to have a local sponsor in Baghdad remains a concern,” Spindler added.
Those who remain stranded at the bridge face dangerous heat conditions without proper shelter, the UN refugee agency said.
Spindler said the UNCHR has helped around 600 people with disabilities and serious medical conditions cross into Baghdad for treatment. Aid workers have also helped displaced people obtain required medical documents, as authorities have only been allowing people in need of medical assistance into Baghdad.
Displaced people already in Baghdad have faced harassment, as many locals blame waves of refugees for providing cover for militants to enter the province.
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