UN warns of humanitarian crisis in Ramadi as 25,000 civilians flee
An Iraqi boy carries a jerrycan of water in a housing camp for displaced families from Ramadi, May 18, 2015. (AFP/File)
The ISIL group’s recent attacks on the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, has forced approximately 25,000 people to flee the city, the United Nations says.
Most of the Iraqi people escaping from the group’s militancy and brutalities are heading toward the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the UN office tasked with coordinating relief operations said in a report on Monday, noting that a large number of Iraqi families are fleeing for the second time in a month.
According to a Sunday announcement by Muhannad Haimour, the governor’s spokesman in Anbar, Ramadi has “fallen” to ISIL terrorists.
ISIL claimed the complete seizure of the city in an online message, alleging that the terrorists had taken over the 8th Brigade army base as well as tanks and missile launchers in Ramadi.
“Nothing is more important right now than helping the people fleeing Ramadi. They are in trouble and we need to do everything possible to help them,” said Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.
Grande called on donors and the international community to provide the UN relief agencies, including the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with more funds so that the agencies can upgrade the level of support provided for the displaced Iraqi people.
“Thousands of people had to sleep in the open because they didn't have places to stay. We would be able to do much more if we had the funding,” he added.
“Abandoning the victims of violence is unthinkable; more has to be done,” Grande stressed.
Reports said late on Monday that the militant group has intensified its attacks in the areas near Ramadi.
Rafea Abd al-Karim al-Fahdawi, the head of Albu Fahd tribe in Anbar, said militants belonging to the ISIL group seized the Joabh area near Ramadi and then launched an attack on Husaybah, east of the provincial capital.
“The tribal volunteers and security forces have been engaged in fierce battles against ISIL to prevent it from entering the area,” Fahdawi said, asking Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “send military reinforcements urgently to the area” to prevent the Takfiri group from taking control of the region.
Iraqi Shia volunteer forces, also known as the Popular Mobilization units, have vowed to dislodge ISIL terrorists from Ramadi, located about 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of Baghdad.
The northern and western parts of Iraq have been in chaos since ISIL started its campaign of terror in early June 2014.
Since then, Iraq’s army has been joined by Kurdish forces, as well as Shia and Sunni volunteers in operations to drive the ISIL terrorists out of the areas they have seized.