MORE than 47 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the Middle East at the start of 2017, equivalent to almost double the Australian population, Oxfam said this week.
The figures, drawn from Iraq, Syria and Yemen as well as Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, show the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Oxfam’s Australia’s Humanitarian Policy Advisor Dr Nicole Bieske said a number of ongoing emergencies all came to a head in the final months of 2016 with the defeat of opposition-held areas in Syria’s second city Aleppo, the fight for control of Mosul in Iraq and the increasing risk of catastrophic hunger in Yemen.
“The conflicts at the roots of all these emergencies are years old but have reached new depths of suffering in recent weeks,” Dr Bieske said.
“People caught up in these crises are not only fleeing death and destruction but have to cope with freezing temperatures as winter sets in across the Middle East. Humanitarian agencies like Oxfam are trying to keep their hope alive.”
In Yemen, more than 14 million people do not have enough food to eat, with almost half a million children under five suffering from acute malnutrition. In Syria, more than 14 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water and toilets. In Iraq, 10 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.
Protracted conflicts elsewhere in the world mean millions more are in need, including more than six million people in South Sudan, seven million in Nigeria and almost two million people in Niger.
Across the Middle East, Nigeria, Niger and South Sudan, Oxfam provides water, sanitation, food and cash transfers to help people in need.
“As a new year begins, we can only hope that the underlying political causes of these many crises are resolved. And while we work towards that goal, Oxfam will do all we can to keep people alive, get them back on their feet and help them prepare for a better future,” Dr Bieske said.
Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses around the world can be made online at oxfam.org.au/icf or by calling 1800 034 034.