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Assessing urgent needs as 500,000 Iraqis flee violence

Iraq, June 12, 2014

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  • Photo: Associated Press

Our team in Iraq is assessing urgent needs after hundreds of thousands of people fled Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, after a violent takeover on Tuesday.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that 500,000 people fled in just a matter of days as the insurgent conflict moved to other northern cities, including Tikrit.

Most of the displaced are heading east towards the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

"We must act quickly before humanitarian conditions deteriorate completely. Not only are people trapped in bottlenecks as they flee to safety, but also they are contending with harsh weather as temperatures soar well over 100 degrees," said Mercy Corps' Iraq Country Director Steve Claborne.

This massive surge of displaced people is causing chaos in the region, and many people are stuck at checkpoints and transition centers near Erbil and Dohuk, trying to make their way into the Kurdistan region.

Local officials are discussing opening two makeshift camps in the Erbil area, and another is currently underway near Dohuk.

"Iraq is already hosting some 200,000 refugees from Syria, and meeting the needs of thousands of internally displaced civilians will stretch already scarce resources even further," said Claborne.

We are actively working with our peers and other agencies to coordinate emergency services on the ground.

Mercy Corps has been working in Iraq since 2003 and has extensive experience responding to the urgent needs of displaced people during times of conflict in the volatile country.

Currently, we are addressing the needs of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the war in neighboring Syria and now reside in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Our long-term development programs in Iraq, which reach over 1 million people, aim to empower people to improve their community dynamics and eliminate the tensions that spark violence.