UN says 65K Iraqis were displaced last week

‘65,000 Iraqis displaced last week’

Fri, 24 Jan 2014 15:19:48 GMT

The United Nations says more than 65,000 people have fled raging violence fueled by al-Qaeda-linked militants in the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi over the past week.

The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Peter Kessler, on Friday said on the whole, over 140,000 people have been displaced due to intense clashes between Iraqi security forces and militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar Province.

Kessler noted that the figures, which he said were compiled by Iraqi officials, mark Iraqis’ worst displacement in years.

“Many civilians are unable to leave conflict-affected areas where food and fuel are now in short supply,” he added.

According to the UNHCR, thousands of the displaced have escaped to Baghdad and other nearby provinces, while some have travelled as far as the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in the north.

The world body also stated that the displaced are in need of food and suitable clothing for the rainy conditions, expressing concern over poor sanitary conditions of the homeless.

Violence erupted in Anbar on December 30, 2013, when the army removed a camp of protesters in Ramadi.

The removal of the camp, which Baghdad says was being used by terrorists operating in the country, sparked protests from Iraqi lawmakers who urged the army to leave the city.

But the withdrawal of government forces from the city paved the way for ISIL militants to overrun the provincial capital and the neighboring city of Fallujah.

On January 18, Iraq’s Afaq TV aired confessions of a number of the ISIL militants admitting to have relations with and taking orders from Riyadh.

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