FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 19 (UPI) — As thousands flee the Iraqi city of Fallujah, humanitarian aide workers are urging the government to address the needs of the people.
Already, more than 80,000 civilians have fled the city following a four-week battle with Iraqi and coalition forces working to drive back the Islamic State, according to the United Nations. Another 25,000 civilians are also expected to leave, the International Business Times reported.
The Norwegian Refugee Council reported aid workers are struggling to provide medicine, water and food for people sleeping in overcrowded camps set up by the Iraqi government. Many have no shelter and are sleeping in the open with temperatures reaching 117 degrees.
“Food is scarce,” said Um Ahmed, still living in Fallujah with her family. “We have mostly been relying on dates for our meals.”
“The overwhelming number of people that have come out of Fallujah has actually overwhelmed our ability to respond to the people in need,” said Nasr Muflahi from the NRC, which said one site is hosting about 1,800 people and has only one toilet facility.
“We implore the Iraqi government to take charge of this humanitarian disaster unfolding on our watch,” he added, according to BBC.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory for Iraq on June 17 after forces gained control of much of the city, wrested back from the IS after fierce, bloody battles.
“We promised to liberate Fallujah, and it has returned to the embrace of the nation,” he said.
The Iraqi army said it captured Fallujah General Hospital from the IS, also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh. IS forces continue to control about 20 percent of the city and are holed up in the northern districts.
Amaq News Agency, IS’s media outlet, said Sunday that an estimated 50 Iraqi troops had been killed and four army vehicles destroyed in “fierce fighting” near the hospital northeast of the city.