A full-blown humanitarian crisis has developed from ISIS takeover of Ramadi, as an estimated 25,000 Iraqi refugees are now making their way east toward Baghdad, seeking food and shelter wherever they can and facing the prospect of being blocked from the capital city amid fears their ranks could include militants.
The United Nations and other aid agencies were handing out food, water and medical supplies along the 60-mile route between the cities, but the situation was worsening amid dwindling supplies and reports the Iraqi army was blocking the refugees from reaching the safety of Baghdad.
“Nothing is more important right now than helping the people fleeing Ramadi,” the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, said in a UN statement. “They are in trouble and we need to do everything possible to help them.”
The flight was a repeat of a wave of refugees who poured out of Ramadi in April, when fighting between ISIS and the Iraqi army flared up. Many had returned, only to be again driven out of the city, some 60 miles west of Baghdad.
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