UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – The broadening of the conflict to populated areas along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq, will force more people to abandon their homes and seek shelter in safer areas, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns.
"If major cities like Mosul come under fire again, thousands more people will have to flee. Because security conditions are so uncertain, many areas remain out of reach for humanitarian organizations, and large numbers of people will be without help when they need it most," ICRC said in a statement released on its official website on Wednesday.
According to head of ICRC's delegation in Iraq, Patrick Youssef, those displaced people who do return home after a while come back to "badly damaged houses" and "radically disrupted supplies of water and electricity".
ICRC said that as a result of the recent widening of the conflict in Iraq, many more people – numbering in the hundreds of thousands – have been affected. This is in addition to the over two million people who had already been displaced since last year.
According to ICRC, the provinces of Al-Anbar, Ninawa, Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Kirkuk have been affected the most and people there have virtually no access to basic services.
ICR urged all parties to the conflict in Iraq to take all the measures necessary to minimize the loss of civilian life and facilitate access to functional healthcare facilities for all those in need.
"Humanitarian workers must be allowed to safely reach people who need help, and all possible measures should be taken to protect people from attacks and displacement," ICRC stressed.
A radical Sunni group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has seized vast areas in Syria and Iraq and has declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control, forcing thousands of people, especially religious minorities, to flee.
Government forces of both Syria and Iraq, a US-led coalition, as well as the Peshmerga (Kurdish militia in Iraq) have all been battling against ISIL extremists. As a result of these combat operations, thousands of civilians have been killed.