Doctors Without Borders says thousands of Iraqi civilians fleeing Fallujah lack access to adequate water, raising the likelihood of epidemics such as cholera.
Fabio Forgione, the head of the international medical charity in Iraq, known by its French acronym as the MSF, said on Tuesday families who have fled to camps are facing a lack of medicine, shelter, clean drinking water and sanitation.
"We are extremely concerned about the situation in Fallujah. We are talking about a city which has been besieged now for months, where access to care, access to food, access to assistance has been extremely hampered," the MSF official said.
Last year, a cholera outbreak infected some 2,800 people across Iraq.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Forgione also stated that doctors are treating people with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and those who have not had access to medications.
Forgione said the medical aid group is assisting about 20,000 civilians who have fled to three main sites around Fallujah. The MSF has deployed mobile health clinics near the front-lines to provide basic services to the internally displaced people.
The MSF has eight international staff and 600 Iraqi nationals working in 11 Iraqi provinces.
Iraqi forces have been engaged in a major offensive to free Fallujah, located in the western province of Anbar. The large-scale push for the liberation of the city started on May 23. Iraq’s army has secured exit routes for civilians attempting to flee the volatile city.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iraq’s army and volunteer fighters recaptured the major water facility of Fallujah Barrage from Daesh.
The massive operation, which was delayed several times due to the situation of civilians and the weather condition, is of high significance to the Iraqis, as the liberation of the town, located west of Baghdad, would seriously boost the morale of the military as it prepares for a final push against Daesh in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city in the north.
The UN hailed efforts made by Baghdad to ease concerns about the safety of civilians during the Fallujah operation, saying thousands of people have managed to flee the Daesh-held city via a safe corridor set up by Iraqi forces.
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