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ICC Note: With winter bearing down on central Iraq the need for shelter and heat are urgent for the tens of thousands still in need in northern Iraq. Just since June, more than 1.2 million people have been displaced because of the fighting with the ISIS militants across Iraq. Many of them have sought refuge in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, but the basic provisions are still lacking for many of these communities.

10/18/2014 Iraq (Aletia) – Tens of thousands of refugees in northern Iraq are facing a winter living in tents or unfinished concrete buildings.

Humanitarian aid organizations, local governments and NGOs are doing what they can to keep internally displaced persons warm, healthy and well-fed, but the task is huge, and some people on the ground say a humanitarian crisis looms.

“It’s very dire. It’s not going to improve very soon. Conditions are deteriorating. People are in desperate need for help, and the government of Iraq has not helped in any way,” said Joseph T. Kassab, founder and president of the US-based Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute. “Winter is really fierce in Iraq. Lot of people living in shelters or in the open.”

Kassab, whose brother is Bishop Jibrael Kassab of the Chaldean Church in Australia and New Zealand, was himself a refugee from Iraq in 1980.

It is estimated that there are 120,000 Christian refugees in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, living in schools, churches, monasteries and parks after they were forced from their homes in Mosul and other cities of the Nineveh Plain over the summer by forces of the Islamic State group.

Natalia Prokopchuk, spokeswoman in Iraq for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described several projects the UNHCR is working on to help internally displaced persons get through the winter, including the distribution of blankets and kerosene stoves. “We are also working to winterize tents where people are living, providing insulation to protect them from rain and snow and put insulation on the floors,” she said.

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