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People from Latifiyah and Mahmoudya in need of supplies

Hundreds of people have fled the towns of Latifiyah and Mahmoudya, southeast of the capital, Baghdad, Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) officials told IRIN, as US and British troops continue to battle to flush out insurgents.

The towns’ streets are empty and people from the area said that basic supplies such as water were hard to come by.

Dr Jaffer Hussein, a medical official from the main hospital of Latifiyah, told IRIN that they had run out of medicines and surgical materials. Since the insurgents had taken control of the hospital two weeks ago, they had not received any help from the government, he said.

Also many injured people had to be taken to Baghdad because they couldn't perform surgical procedures due to the shortages.

"We are receiving help only from NGOs like the IRCS and the International Committee of Red Cross [ICRC]. They are the only groups that are sending us some material," Hussein said.

He added many children were suffering from dehydration and malnutrition and pregnant women were forced to give birth at home due to insecurity.

The fighting has been taking place across the towns for two weeks and insurgents insist they will only leave when US and British troops leave the area.

Nearly 100 families have taken refuge in a mosque 10 km from the city and are receiving supplies from people in the neighbourhood and the IRCS. Last week a convoy carrying potable water, food and medicine left the IRCS office in Baghdad bound for those in the mosque and some 1,500 others camped in areas 10 km south of Latifiyah.

"It is very critical and we don't know how long we can supply those people in the mosque. God bless them. Every day more families are coming and asking for help," Sheikh Muhammad Jamal, from the Arassul mosque where the displaced are staying, told IRIN.

The insurgents have taken control of police stations in the towns and explosions and attacks can be heard from a distance. "We hope that the government will take urgent action over this situation," Sheikh Jamal added.

There is also a similar situation in Mahmoudya, where insurgents have prohibited women from leaving their homes and have demanded all shops be closed. The town has been without electricity for nearly a month and no potable water can be found in the area, local residents said.

"I need to get food to my family. I could not do that there [in the town]. That is why I left my home and came here to camp with the others. We need urgent help," Nariman al-Rami, a mother of three, at a camp near Mahmoudya, told IRIN.

The Ministry of Migration and Displacement told IRIN it would send tents to the displaced and had asked for the Ministry of Health to provide urgent assistance on the medical front.

Firdoos al-Abadi, spokeswoman for the IRCS told IRIN in Baghdad that another convoy carrying tents and blankets would be dispatched to the area soon, adding that most of their resources were going to Fallujah city where fighting is also continuing.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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