ICRC president Peter Maurer arrived in Iraq yesterday (10 March) on a four-day visit. He will be visiting Baghdad, Najaf and Erbil, where he will meet senior Iraqi officials, religious leaders and the leadership of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organizations to discuss growing humanitarian needs resulting from the escalation of violence in parts of the country. Mr Maurer will also meet displaced Iraqis and see projects aimed at helping people in the violence-prone area of North Babel earn a living and improve their access to water.

Today, he visited Yousifiya, south of Baghdad, along with the ICRC Head of Operations for the Middle East, Robert Mardini. The ICRC president and the team met displaced families from Fallujah in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, who told them it was impossible for them and their children to return to their homes in Fallujah because of the intense fighting there.

In a news release, the president was quoted as saying: “Ordinary Iraqis, particularly in remote areas of the country, are having to cope both with the consequences of past conflict and with outbreaks of violence still occurring, such as those that recently took place in Anbar province.”

“We urge everyone involved in fighting to spare civilians and allow humanitarian and medical personnel to carry out their duties in safety,” Mr Maurer was quoted as saying.

Since the outbreak of the most recent crisis in Al Anbar, the ICRC has assisted more than 52,000 displaced people in dire need. “Working closely with tribal leaders, religious figures and other local leaders enabled us to take swift action to help those in need,” said Mr Maurer, according to the news release.

Click below for the full ICRC news release:
Iraq: ICRC president emphasizes growing humanitarian needs