UNICEF warns of humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq

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GENEVA: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised alarm over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq, calling for millions of dollars in aid to the war-torn country.

“The humanitarian situation in Iraq is close to disaster! We urgently need extra resources in order to continue assistance,” Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF’s representative in Iraq, said in a statement on Monday.

Heffinck made the comments as humanitarian organizations are preparing to launch a fund-raising appeal of 500 million dollars for the crisis in Iraq, in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday to cover relief operations over the next six months.

Heffinck, however, said this amount of money is the minimum required to deal with the crisis fueled by the ISIL militancy, calling for urgent global actions to that regard.

The UN official further expressed hope that all countries would respond to the fund-raising request.

According to the UN agency, some eight million Iraqis have been in urgent need of humanitarian aid since June 2014, when the ISIL terror group launched an offensive and seized swathes of land in the northern and western parts of the country.

In similar comments on May 19, Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, urged donors and the international community to provide the UN relief agencies, including the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with more funds so that the they can upgrade the level of support provided for the displaced Iraqi people.

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