UN hotline set up to help displaced in Iraq
UN agencies have launched a national hotline in Iraq to provide information on humanitarian services for those displaced by the fighting. It will give updates on food distribution points, medical services, and shelter options across the country.
UNHCR estimates that 3.2 million have been forced to leave their homes since the start of 2014 and are scattered in difficult to reach locations across the country.
"We are simply not able to reach everyone due to the sheer size of the crisis," said Bruno Geddo, representative for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iraq, in a joint announcement released today in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
|People continue to be on the move and many more are being displaced as we speak.
-Bruno Geddo, UNHCR
"People continue to be on the move and many more are being displaced as we speak.
"While the call centre will help identify and respond to the most urgent needs of the displaced, it will also ensure that up-to-date information is available to them, so that they can access the assistance and services they require," he added.
Geddo said the hotline was especially important for helping displaced people living outside formal camps and settlements who are difficult to reach.
Jane Pearce, UN World Food Programme (WFP) director for Iraq, said "first and foremost, the call centre serves as a quick and easy way for IDPs [internally displaced persons] to find out about how the humanitarian community can help."
"But more importantly, it offers us a chance to connect to, and better understand, the people we serve," Pearce said.
After a successful pilot in July 2015 in Erbil Governorate, the information centre is now operational across Iraq and can be reached via any Iraqi mobile phone by dialling 6999.
The information centre was established and is operated by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), an operational arm of the UN supporting implementation of its partners' peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. It is supported financially by contributions from UNHCR, WFP, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.