ABU DHABI, 22nd February 2016 (WAM) — The top United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq has said she is deeply worried about thousands of civilians who are trapped in Fallujah city and in Sinjar district and are unable to access aid, calling on the Iraqi government officials to redouble efforts to relocate civilians to safer areas before the situation deteriorates further.

The UN says more than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Iraq since January 2014.

Lise Grande, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in a press release carried by the UN News Centre, said the UN is unable to access civilians in Fallujah city in Anbar Governorate and conditions there are deteriorating rapidly.

“We are receiving reports of hunger and shortages of medicines and essential supplies. We know that people are trying to leave the city but are prevented from doing so; we fear that the situation is becoming desperate,” Ms. Grande said.

As she called on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to uphold their obligations under humanitarian law and redouble their efforts to facilitate the evacuation and relocation of civilians to safer areas with food, water and medical care, Ms. Grande stressed that urgent steps are necessary to alleviate the suffering of people struggling to survive in the country.

“As humanitarians, we have a common responsibility to save lives,” she said.

Ms. Grande said she is also profoundly worried about the situation in Ninewa Governorate, where more than 520 people, including an estimated 250 children, have been stranded for three months between military frontlines east of Sinjar Mountain.

“It’s the middle of winter and these people are unable to access food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Ensuring that civilians are safe is one of our highest priorities,” Ms. Grande emphasised.

WAM/MMYS