(Adds quote, UNICEF comment)
GENEVA Aug 7 Some of the many thousands of
people trapped by Islamic State militants on Sinjar mountain in
northern Iraq have been rescued in the past 24 hours, a
spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs said on Thursday.
The militants' capture of the nearby town of Sinjar,
ancestral home of the Yazidi ethnic minority, had prompted tens
of thousands of people to flee to the surrounding mountains.
"We're just receiving the information right now. We've just
heard that people over the last 24 hours have been extracted and
the U.N. is mobilising resources to ensure that these people are
assisted on arrival," David Swanson said by phone from Iraq.
"This is a tragedy of immense proportions, impacting the
lives of hundreds of thousands of people," he said.
"Over the past couple of days, almost 200,000 people have
made their way northwards to Iraq's Kurdistan region, Dohuk
governorate, or to disputed border areas inside Ninewah," he
"We have also received reports that thousands more may have
fled across the border into Syria, and are waiting to cross back
into Iraq, but I have no concrete confirmation of that."
Sinjar district previously had a population of 308,000.
"Many of the displaced are in immediate need of essential
life-saving humanitarian items, including water, food, shelter
He did not have details of the number of people who might
have been evacuated or who was extracting them.
A spokesman for the U.N. children's agency UNICEF in Geneva,
Christopher Tidey, said most of the families remained on the
"We have received reports of dehydrated children and we know
that at least 40 children have died," Tidey said.
The militants extended their gains in northern Iraq on
Thursday, seizing more towns and strengthening a foothold near
the Kurdish region, witnesses said, in an offensive that has
alarmed the Baghdad government and regional powers.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Toby Chopra)