This Article is From Jun 28, 2014

Two Million Homeless in Iraq: United Nations to NDTV

Erbil: A potential two million people could have been displaced in Iraq after the Sunni jihadist offensive and other conflicts over the years in Iraq, according to the United Nations. Speaking to NDTV in northern Iraq, the country head for the World Food Programme, Jane Pearce said, "Apart from the fact that we have displaced people in 2014 we already had 1 million displaced people from conflicts in 2005 and 2006. So, the total we are looking at is total potential displacement of up to 2 million people."

Ms Pearce also said, "We actually know the (Kurd) government has registered 300,000 people who have come in to the Kurdish areas. We have 200,000 in Dahuk and 100,000 in Erbil. We have 20-25,000 people in Suleymaniya."

An estimated 500,000 of the 2.5 million people in Mosul - 90 kilometres from Erbil - have fled the fighting. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS also known by its English acronym ISIL - the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) overran Mosul on June 10 in its lightning movement from across the Syrian border to the doorsteps of Baghdad.

Kurdistan - an autonomous region - prides itself on its unique identity of majority Muslim yet not Arab - and has used the fragility of the Iraqi Army to take over oil-rich Kirkuk. Kirkuk lies outside the Kurd boundary but is historically associated with the people.

Kurdistan also does not allow non-Kurds in to the area unless they are sponsored by residents or have special Kurdish government passes. That has meant the influx of displaced people are housed in camps on the Kurd border. That's where the UN, the WFP and other local and international organisations and charities step in.

"We provide a food basket for each registered family. We estimate a family of 5. We give them 62 kg of food, wheat, rice, pasta, lentils, canned food, salt and sugar. That should be enough to meet the caloric needs of a family for a month," Ms Pearce told NDTV. But, she admitted the human cost of the unfolding crisis needs to be focussed on. "You can't feed 500,000 people overnight. We don't even know how many of those 500,000 will need food. We are working out how many of them need our assistance and we will scale up our operations," she said.