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World Vision to provide emergency relief to thousands fleeing violence in Iraq

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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.

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 Wynn 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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World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to 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/press or follow us on Twitter @WorldVisionNews.