The United Nations has announced its highest level of emergency for the humanitarian crisis in Iraq in the wake of the onslaught by Islamic militants who have overrun much of the country’s north and west and driven out hundreds of thousands from their homes.
The Security Council also said yesterday it was backing a newly nominated premier-designate in the hope that he can swiftly form an “inclusive government” that could counter the insurgent threat, which has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the US troop withdrawal in 2011.
Attacks by the Islamic State group and its Sunni militant allies this summer have captured large swaths of land in northern and western Iraq, displaced members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities and threatened Iraqi Kurds in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.
The UN’s declaration of a “Level 3 Emergency” will trigger additional goods, funds and assets to respond to the needs of the displaced, said UN special representative Nickolay Mladenov, who pointed to the “scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe.” Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the Islamic State group’s advance to take refuge in the remote desert Sinjar mountain range.
The US and Iraqi military have dropped food and water supplies, and in recent days Kurds from neighbouring Syria battled to open a corridor to the mountain, allowing some 45,000 to escape.