BY Ian Dunn | August 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Iraq-refugee Erbil-small girl with water

Iraqi refugees are dying from hunger and thirst

Time and resources running out for people fleeing from violence, including tens of thousands of persecuted Christians

There are thousands of refugees facing starvation and dehydration in Iraq right now according to the Order of Malta’s relief agency and as feared in this week’s SCO page one report.

“A massive stream of refugees has fled across the border into Syria and back again into the Kurdish region near Dohuk,” Oliver Hochedez, leader of Malteser International’s response team in Erbil in northern Iraq said. “Extremely high temperatures—up to 45 degrees—and a very limited water supply are causing severe health threats to the IDPs— heat stroke, dehydration, diarrhoea, skin infections.”

The number of displaced in Iraq continues to rise rapidly. In less than a week, over 200,000 people in north Iraq—most of them Christians— were driven to flee from the terrorist group Islamic State, according to the agency. Twenty-four improvised camps have been set up, mainly in schools or church grounds.

“Help from neighbours and countless volunteers have prevented disaster,” Mr Hochedez said. ‘But these resources will be exhausted pretty soon. It’s a massive undertaking to provide everything the thousands of displaced need to survive. And thousands more are still unreachable.”

Malteser International is organising distribution of medicines, drinking water and hygiene items with its partners on the ground.

Other organisations such as SCIAF, working with Caritas Internationalis, and Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) have also sent emergency aid to the country and surrounding areas to help cope with the humanitarian crisis.

A team of three from ACN, including the Executive President Baron Johannes Heereman and Projects Director Regina Lynch, have been visiting internal refugees desperate for sanctuary both in the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, and towns and villages further north.

Pic: A young Iraqi refugee girl in an Erbil camp carries an empty water bottle.

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