UN refugee agency in desperate need of funds for Iraq humanitarian aid

The UNHCR office in Geneva. Photo by Ayub Nuri

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As heavy fighting continues in the final phase to retake Mosul from ISIS, more than 750,000 have been forced to flee their homes, causing strenuous financial concerns for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), who appealed on Friday for urgent financial support to meet the humanitarian needs of Iraq’s displaced.

“A shortage of funds threatens to undermine our humanitarian response at this critical time,” Andrej Mahecic a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the press at a regular media briefing in Geneva.

The UN agency is in need of approximately $126 million to continue its operations in Iraq. Nearly half of this is needed for the newly displaced families from the most recent battles in west Mosul. The humanitarian assistance provided by the agency includes emergency shelter in camps, legal assistance to replace lost or missing documents, child protection as well as preventing sexual and gender based violence. Additionally, they provide mattresses, blankets, and other essential items.

An additional $24 million is also needed to assist those returning to liberated east Mosul and surrounding areas. It is estimated that 125,000 IDPs have returned to their homes. However, many are living in damaged buildings and still are in need of shelter as well as financial support. There are also initiatives to provide security to the IDPs who have recently returned home.

So far, the UNHCR has provided emergency shelter to 316,000 people in its 12 established camps in the relative proximity of Mosul.

To date, UNHCR has provided $578 million in 2017 alone to assist Iraq’s IDP crisis.