As you may be aware, the Iraqi government is currently conducting an operation to retake the city of Fallujah from the Islamic State, with the assistance of the United States, Iran, and a number of irregular militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). While the much anticipated defeat of the Islamic State has received significant headlines, the effect that this operation has had on civilians has received considerably less attention. Aid agencies have reported that this operation has created a “humanitarian crisis.” We ask that you join us in bringing reparations in the form of food, tents, water, and medicine to families displaced by this conflict.
While this most recent operation began on May 23rd 2016; the Iraqi government has been laying siege to Fallujah since December 31st 2013 when government forces attacked nonviolent protest camps in Ramadi and Fallujah. This event provoked an armed uprising, to which the Iraqi army responded by surrounding Fallujah, sealing off all exits from the city, and bombing and shelling. The Iraqi army has also made a number of failed attempts to send ground forces into the city and reassert control over the last two and a half years. In this period the almost daily air strikes and artillery shelling have killed at least 3521 civilians (including 343 women and 548 children) and have wounded over 5966 (including 840 women and 1013 children). And the Fallujah hospital has been targeted over 40 times.
Families have faced continuous displacement since the start of this conflict. In February 2004, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq estimated that the initial violence displaced 62,679 families, or roughly 370,000 people from within Anbar province where Fallujah is located. As of a month ago when this new operation began, between 50,000 and 196,000 civilians were believed to be trapped in Fallujah in danger of starvation and of being caught in the cross fire.
In the course of the fighting, there have been numerous reports of abuses, such as “summary executions, beatings of unarmed men, enforced disappearances, and mutilation of corpses” carried out by the PMF.
However, the families that have been fortunate enough to escape the violence are now flooding into refugee camps where aid agencies are struggling to meet their needs. The UN Refugee Agency has estimated that 60,000 civilians have fled Fallujah in the last several weeks, and 70,000 are expected to follow. Refugee camps are currently at “maximum capacity,” leaving many families without adequate shelter or other essentials. The World Health Organization has also expressed concern that the current conditions in the camps could lead to disease outbreaks.
We are asking that you contribute to our next emergency shipment of reparations to help meet the needs of Fallujah’s displaced families. To do so, click here.