Iraq UN refugee agency very concerned as people flee upsurge in fighting

Over the past three days, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has provided 3,500 blankets, 1,200 mattresses, five emergency health kits, 500 stoves and 500 plastic sheets for people fleeing Fallujah, west of Baghdad, to the capital, spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. The supplies are being delivered by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Intersos, Première Urgence and Islamic Relief, to the most needy displaced people and institutions, especially hospitals. Première Urgence will be conducting a mission to Najaf where health conditions are reported to be poor, Mr. Redmond said. In Baghdad, mosques are being prepared to shelter those fleeing Fallujah. People in villages located between the town and Baghdad reportedly have also been opening their doors to the displaced.Returnee convoy movements in the south from Iran have been suspended since last Tuesday, and all local staff are under instruction to stay at home. After the last convoy from Shiraz transported some 200 returnees, a limited number of people were given shelter in the UNHCR/Intersos transit centre in Basra, unable to return to their final destinations. It is unclear when they will be able to reach their homes.Most of the immediate assistance, such as repatriation support, responses to the flooding in the south and provision of support to affected families in the flooded areas has unfortunately been temporarily put on hold, Mr. Redmond said.

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