UN declares highest-level humanitarian emergency in Iraq

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NEW YORK: The United Nations announced it had declared the humanitarian crisis in Iraq to be the highest level of emergency, while clashes between Iraqi troops and Takfiri militants west of Baghdad killed at least four children Thursday.

The U.N. on Wednesday declared the situation in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency” — a development that will trigger additional goods, funds and assets to respond to the needs of the displaced, said U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov, pointing to the “scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe.”

The U.N. Security Council also said it was backing a newly nominated premier-designate in the hope that he can swiftly form an “inclusive government” that could counter the insurgent threat, which has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

Since sweeping across northern and western Iraq from its base in Syria in early June, the militant group, formerly known as ISIS, has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes. Among those who have been displaced are the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities, while the militants routinely massacre Shia Muslims.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis or Izidis have fled the rebel group’s advance to take refuge in the remote desert Sinjar mountain range.

The U.S. and Iraqi military have dropped food and water supplies, and in recent days Kurds from neighboring Syria battled to open a corridor to the mountain, allowing some 45,000 to escape.

The U.N. said it would provide increased support to those who have escaped Sinjar and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. Others have fled to other parts of the Kurdish region or further south.

A total of 1.5 million have been displaced by the fighting since the insurgents captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, in June and quickly swept over other parts of the country.

 

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