(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

More aid needed for the displaced in Anbar Province

[Iraq] A map of Iraq highlighting Anbar province and five key cities within it. [Date picture taken: 01/15/2007]
Saeed Kudaimati/IRIN

Displaced families in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, lack essential supplies, including tents, food parcels and medical care, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are over 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the province, but local aid groups say their plight has been relatively neglected.

“In response to the latest events [IDPs continuing to seek refuge] in northern and southern governorates, aid agencies are responding faster to the requests in these areas, leaving Anbar with much less aid than before March 2007,” said Fatah Ahmed, a spokesman for the Iraqi Aid Association (IAA).

According to Iraqi Red Crescent and IAA, there is about a 40 percent decrease in the aid delivered this year compared to what was delivered last year.

“There are over eight big displacement camps in Anbar and over 25 smaller displaced communities, including those displaced in their own cities. The situation is worst in Fallujah, Ramadi and Al-Qaim but many villages also lack assistance,” Ahmed said.

Most IDPs in Anbar are people who lost their homes after fighting in the area, or fled sectarian violence in Baghdad.

''There is a lack of medicines and proper medical assistance. In some areas food is urgently needed.''

“Security has improved in the area but donations have decreased. It is true aid agencies are trying to cope countrywide with the needs of displaced families but IDPs camped in this area are relying on residents’ support rather than NGOs,” Ahmed added.

According to the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI), there has not been a decrease in the aid given to Anbar but there has not been a particular focus on the region, and it said the plight of the IDPs was critical.

“There is a lack of medicines and proper medical assistance. In some areas food is urgently needed,” said Cedric Turlan, NCCI information and communication officer. “There is a shortage of drinkable water - indeed people are reportedly drinking from rivers in some areas - and IDPs also need support in terms of non-food items.”

“There is also a need for security and protection of the vulnerable, and unemployment is very high,” Turlan added.

New tents needed

The tents of many displaced families have deteriorated and, with winter approaching, there are very few heaters available.

“I walk around the city looking for old furniture which has been discarded... It is a way to get some wood to burn during the winter and keep our children warm because oil is very expensive and few NGOs are supplying us with it,” said Teif Omar, a 41-year-old displaced father of four living in a camp near the outskirts of Ramadi.

''Many tents have deteriorated, and have holes in them… we have one blanket for each person and during the winter…''

“Many tents have deteriorated, and have holes in them… we have one blanket for each person and during the winter… the temperature can drop a lot and even with three blankets it might still feel cold,” Omar said.

According to a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) press release dated 21 November, the number of Iraqi IDPs has risen to 1,199,491 nationwide. Some 61,350 of them are in Anbar Province.

“When you compare the total number of displaced in Anbar with the nationwide figure released by UNHCR, you might feel that it is a very small number but the huge problem is that those individuals are the ones who are mostly suffering from lack of assistance,” Muhammad Aydan Rabia’a, a volunteer with the Iraqi Red Crescent in Ramadi, told IRIN.

“Shelter, food and access to work remain priority needs for displaced families in Anbar and the health situation has been reported by doctors to be the worst in Iraq as a result of the shortage of doctors in the region,” Rabia’a added.


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