ERBIL, Iraq, August 15, 2014 – Thousands of families in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq are in desperate need of food, water, and medicine, according to World Vision’s emergency response team on the ground. The team says displaced families are seeking shelter in abandoned buildings, schools, and churches – and others have set up tents and are sleeping in the open.
Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities, are among the 1.2 million Iraqis displaced by conflict and targeted persecution since January, according to United Nations’ estimates. Many displaced Iraqis arrived after grueling journeys on foot in extreme heat. Some have had to move several times to avoid being caught up in the violence that has forced them to flee their homes.
“One church our team visited in the city of Shaqlawa, about 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Erbil, had about 260 people, mostly Christians from Mosul and Qaraqosh, living in it,” said Faith Chastain, emergency program officer with World Vision. “People were desperate, just wanting to escape danger.”
The U.N. has declared the crisis in Iraq to be at the highest level of humanitarian emergency, on a par with Syria, South Sudan, and Central African Republic.
“We are gravely concerned about increasing violence in the Middle East and its effects on children,” said Wynne Flaten, World Vision’s response director in Iraq. “It’s especially concerning that this most recent wave has targeted Christians and other minorities. We know that when religious freedom is crushed, so are many of the rights that allow children and communities to flourish.”
World Vision’s response in Iraq will focus on the most-urgent needs, including food, health, water, sanitation, and child protection. The aid agency is also responding to 13 humanitarian emergencies around the world, including the current conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Gaza.
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Please contact Laura Blank ([email protected], +1.646.245.2496) to schedule an interview with World Vision’s emergency team in Iraq.
For more information on how you can help World Vision respond to this crisis, please visit www.worldvision.org.
About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- More than 1.2 million Iraqis – including Christians, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities – displaced since January
- Families in desperate need of food, water, medicine, says World Vision’s emergency response team