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Iraq Humanitarian Bulletin May 2016 | Issued on 19 June


Emergency response to people displaced from Fallujah in Anbar and within Makhmur in Erbil is ongoing; shelter is insufficient in both locations, with the prepared camps overcrowded.

About 190,000 people have been newly displaced along the Anbar and Mosul corridors this year.

Humanitarian funding is running out and several programmes are at risk of closure.

Thousands of families have fled Fallujah

Thousands more people could still be on the move amidst ongoing fighting Military operations led by Iraqi security forces to retake Fallujah in Anbar from ISIL began on 22 May. Since then, people have fled Fallujah in rapidly increasing numbers, with more than 83,000 people fleeing Fallujah and surrounding areas by 18 June. Most people initially fled outlying areas of Fallujah, but on 7 June reports were received of some families leaving Fallujah city itself, as military operations began to enter the city centre. In the last few days, tens of thousands of people have been allowed to leave the centre of town.

The sudden increase in displacement in early June follows both increased opportunities for families to flee as well as hundreds of other families demonstrating a willingness to take extremely high risks to try to escape, sometimes with grave consequences. There are reports of people drowning as they tried to escape, or being injured or killed by snipers or improvised explosive devices. Many families are separated during their escape with men and teenage boys being separated from their families for security screening.

The families still trapped inside Fallujah are thought to have only limited, if any food, and there appear to be few sources of safe drinking water. The risk for disease outbreaks is high. While it is not clear how many civilians are still in the city, the UN estimates it could still be thousands of families. Nothing is more important than ensuring that civilians are protected and have access to life-saving assistance. The UN and partners continue to call on all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Emergency response to displaced people is ongoing in multiple locations

Most displaced people from Fallujah have been taken to Ameriyat al Falluja, a town around 30km south of the city, where the Government of Iraq and partners had prepared tents and water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in advance. These camps are now full and the Government and humanitarian partners are working to quickly set up others, including in the two nearby towns, Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah Tourist City.

People are also fleeing areas north of Fallujah towards the east, and are being hosted in local schools and in the Al Ahal camp. The families who have managed to reach safety have fled with nothing and need everything. Major efforts are being made to provide emergency assistance to the newly displaced, including shelter, water, food, basic household items and health care. Specialized activities for children and women are being established and mobile teams are providing psychological support.

The UN has not been able to access Fallujah since it came under the control of armed opposition groups in January 2014. Humanitarian partners have worked with an estimate of about 50,000 civilians remaining in Fallujah. The number of displaced is well above that planning figure and the scope of the crisis has out-paced humanitarian capacity. Contingency stocks are nearly depleted, every agency requires funds and there are few front-line partners. With rising temperatures and lack of shade and clean drinking water, outbreaks of communicable diseases are likely. There is only limited support for new-born babies and nearly all of the children who have been outside Government control have not yet been immunized. The low level of antigens coupled with poor hygiene and substandard sanitation raises the risk of disease outbreaks further.

Prior to the most recent military operation, more than 75,000 displaced people from other locations within Anbar were already residing in camps near Fallujah in Khalidiyah, Habbaniyah and Ameriyat al Falluja. Humanitarian partners also continue to provide emergency assistance to other conflict affected people, including in the transit sites Al Wafaa and Kilo 18 in western Anbar.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
19 Jun 2016
Document type: 
Humanitarian Bulletin