* ISIL jihadists hold wide areas of north, west Iraq
* Many displaced people living in open, UN says
* Outbreaks of measles and diarrhoea feared
* Insecurity, depleted fuel stocks hamper aid
* Red Cross says Falluja remains a 'battleground'
(Adds statement by Red Cross)
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, June 20 The United Nations said on
Friday it was expanding aid to a million people driven from
their homes as Islamist militants seized wide tracts of northern
and western Iraq.
Many families are living in the open, in urgent need of
food, water, shelter and latrines, said Jacqueline Badcock, the
United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.
"Humanitarian agencies are rapidly scaling up in the face of
this unfortunate challenge," she said in a statement that
appealed for access to thousands of displaced in areas held by
armed factions, including the radical Islamic State of Iraq and
Insecurity and depleted fuel stocks are hampering efforts to
deliver supplies, amid fears of outbreaks of measles and
diarrhoeal diseases, U.N. aid agencies said.
Around 500,000 people who fled the northern city of Mosul
after ISIL overran it 10 days ago have found refuge in the
nearby Kurdish autonomous zone and adjoining areas in Nineveh
province now largely under jihadi Islamist control.
Roughly the same number have been uprooted by fighting in
Iraq's vast western province of Anbar, where Sunni Muslim jihadi
militants largely hold the main towns of Falluja and Ramadi.
"The city of Falluja has remained a battleground between
armed groups and the Iraqi armed forces. It has suffered
extensive loss of life and major damage to homes, hospitals,
schools and water installations," the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement. "Many remain without
food, water, health care or adequate shelter."
Thousands have been killed in violence across Iraq since
December, the ICRC said. This month, it has delivered enough
wound-dressing materials for 500 patients to Falluja's main
hospital and for 550 patients to three other hospitals in Iraq.
The ICRC has also distributed rations to more than 31,000
displaced from Mosul and plans an airlift of goods to Erbil.
"Right now, it's a chaotic situation," Adrian Edwards of the
U.N. refugee agency UNHCR told a news briefing in Geneva.
"You've had very large numbers of people who have moved across.
They are trying to find accommodation, trying to exist on the
funds they have, and we are trying to get help to them."
"Clearly, new displacement in this region, which is under
immense strain, is the last thing that we need at the moment."
More than 2.8 million Syrian refugees have already flooded
into neighbouring countries from their country's three-year-old
civil war. Nearly 225,000 of them fled into Iraq, according to
Iraqi forces were massing north of Baghdad on Friday, aiming
to strike back at ISIL, whose lightning offensive towards the
capital has prompted the United States to send in military
advisers to stiffen government resistance.
SHORTAGES OF MEDICINES
Health officials in the Kurdistan region of Iraq are
reporting critical shortages of medicines after regular
deliveries from the central government in Baghdad were
interrupted, the World Health Organization said.
The WHO has provided medical supplies for mobile clinics as
well as trauma kits to treat 200 wounded, emergency health kits
for 20,000 people, and supplies to treat diarrhoeal diseases,
spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.
Some sick or wounded are unable to get treatment, said
Patrick Youssef, head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq.
"People are not always able to obtain the care they require
in hospitals because medical staff cannot work in safety,"
Youssef said. "Many hospital personnel have fled because of the
danger, and there is a shortage of medicines."
Power cuts due to system breakdowns or fuel shortages have
added to the misery and limited the water supply, he said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that seven trucks had
delivered 175 metric tonnes of food to its warehouse in the
Kurdistan city of Arbil, where its operations are expanding.
"Reaching IDPs (internally displaced persons) who are
constantly on the move, often in insecure areas, will also
present significant challenges for WFP and the humanitarian
community," WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.
A U.N. appeal for $105 million to help Iraqis displaced from
Anbar is being revised, as more funds are needed to cope with
the wider crisis following ISIL's offensive, Jens Laerke of the
U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
(Editing by Larry King)