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Save the Children calls for Australia to step up in Fallujah humanitarian crisis
Aid agency Save the Children has called on the international community, including Australia, to urgently provide humanitarian assistance to the tens of thousands of people fleeing the Fallujah conflict zone in Iraq.
Save the Children Australia chief executive Paul Ronalds said aid agencies are unable to meet minimum humanitarian standards regarding access to food, safe drinking water and medical treatment for those who have escaped the fighting, as the military operation against Islamic State intensifies.
“These people, who until recently were trapped inside this city for months, desperately need access to food, clean water and medical assistance,” Mr Ronalds said.
“Australia should step up and do our fair share, commensurate with the size of our economy and the role we are playing militarily in the conflict.”
“We must ensure that our military efforts are balanced by equally strong humanitarian support. At the moment, Australia’s investment in aid in Iraq is just a few per cent of the hundreds of millions of dollars we spent on our military intervention.”
The United Nations and NGOs like Save the Children estimate they have just 30 per cent of the funding needed to support the 3 million people who have been displaced in Iraq. About half of these are children.
In the last three days alone, the Norwegian Refugee Council estimates up to 30,000 people have been displaced from Fallujah. The UNHCR estimates up to 70,000 people have fled the city in total, and another 60,000 are expected to leave in the coming days.
Many other families are still struggling to escape the city, with dire reports emerging about the conditions in Fallujah, including a lack of food, services and electricity.
“As military operations intensify even further, it is a matter of life and death that children and their families are able to get out safely,” Mr Ronalds said.
“All parties to this conflict must ensure safe routes for civilians, and authorities must ensure that children fleeing with their families are provided with the protection they need.”
Save the Children has deployed a team to assess the situation in the camps sheltering those who have escaped Fallujah.
Estimates by the UNHCR suggest as many as 150,000 displaced people in the region may soon be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
The humanitarian emergency in Fallujah comes as Monday marks World Refugee Day, which seeks to raise public awareness about the millions of refugees and internally displaced people around the world who have had to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution.
For interviews with Paul Ronalds or for more information, contact Tom Arup on 0429 191 133.