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Brussels, 12 June 2014
IRAQ: Another humanitarian crisis in the Middle East
The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, made the following statement:
"A major humanitarian crisis is underway in Iraq as a result of fierce fighting between the Iraqi Security Forces and armed opposition groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In a matter of days the city of Mosul, the country's second city, and other towns have fallen to insurgent forces. As many as half a million people have fled their homes as a result, most of them leaving everything behind in their haste to escape.
The situation in Iraq was already of great concern to me when I visited Baghdad and the Kurdish Region of Iraq in March. As well as announcing the opening of an ECHO office in Erbil the European Commission increased its humanitarian aid funding by €3 million to help some 400,000 people on the move as a result of fighting in Al Anbar Province.
Tragically all our worst fears have now been realised. The roots of this latest crisis are complex and include the alienation of the beleaguered Sunni Arab population, a state of generalized violence, opportunistic armed opposition groups and a spill over effect from the terrible war raging in Syria. The resources we made available three months ago are now being used by our humanitarian partners the ICRC, and other humanitarian partners to help this latest wave of civilians caught up in a conflict not of their making.
In the coming days the full extent of this new humanitarian crisis will become clearer and the European Commission stands ready to offer further assistance.
I would like to encourage the Government of Iraq to work with all political parties together with the international community to do all in their power to make sure that the affected people of Iraq, who have already suffered so much, are provided with the aid they so desperately need. I commend those good neighbours who have in the past taken in and provided shelter to displaced Iraqis and who continue to show their solidarity by helping again in another hour of need.
And I call upon all those involved in the fighting to respect International Humanitarian Law, to protect civilians and humanitarian aid workers giving emergency assistance and to ensure access to humanitarian assistance or safe passage for those leaving areas directly affected by insecurity and conflict."