Humanitarian corridors needed to reach many displaced in Iraq: IOM

The International Organization for Migration warned Friday that aid workers could not reach tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by the violence rocking the country, urging the establishment of humanitarian corridors to access those in need.

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 27, 2014, 19:07 PM IST

Geneva: The International Organization for Migration warned Friday that aid workers could not reach tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by the violence rocking the country, urging the establishment of humanitarian corridors to access those in need.

"The only way to respond to the needs of the displaced is to create humanitarian corridors," IOM spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told reporters in Geneva.

The migration body said it, along with the UN`s World Food Programme and children`s agency UNICEF, had been able to distribute relief to around 10,000 people in Iraq this month.

"But that is a drop in the bucket when you consider the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced by the ongoing fighting in Mosul, Tal Afar, Tikrit and on the road south to Baghdad," IOM Baghdad Emergency Coordinator Mandie Alexander said in a statement.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have captured a swathe of territory in northern Iraq in a lightning assault which is threatening to tear the country apart.

The onslaught has killed nearly 1,100 people.

People fleeing the violence in the north are now dispersed in 17 of the country`s 18 governorates and many were beyond the reach of aid workers, IOM said.

"We cannot accurately assess their needs or deliver aid to the vast majority because of the lack of security and hundreds of road blocks," Alexander explained, adding that the road blocks also stopped people in need from getting to places where they could receive aid.

"We cannot reach them and they cannot reach us," she said.

Alexander warned the recent onslaught had radically altered the situation in Iraq.

"Iraq is no longer the country that we knew and the Iraq we knew will never exist again," she said, lamenting that "we have turned back the clock to the emergencies of 2003 and 2006 and what we now have is a very complex humanitarian emergency with huge obstacles to overcome."

IOM, which counts a total of 250 international and national staff in Iraq, said it had been able to locate and identify the needs of 240,000 displaced people in 240 different locations across the country.

But Alexander warned the situation remained "very volatile," with families often displaced multiple times.

The UN this week tripled its appeal for humanitarian funding for Iraq to more than $312 million.