Angelina Jolie highlights plight of Iraqi Refugees
Latest figures from UNHCR show that more than four million Iraqis have been displaced by the the war in the country.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie on Wednesday concluded her first visit to Iraq and Syria, where she heard tales of extraordinary resilience and courage from Iraqi refugees.
Wanting to learn first-hand about the plight of more than 4 million people uprooted by the conflict in Iraq, Jolie visited a UNHCR registration centre in Damascus on Monday and later spent hours hearing moving stories from refugees in their homes. Some had fled kidnapping and murder attempts and are now struggling to make ends meet and recover some hope for the future.
Stressing this was a non-political visit, Jolie said she wanted to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis and urged governments to increase their support for UNHCR and its partners. The UN refugee agency estimates more than 4.2 million Iraqis are now displaced – two million to neighbouring states and another 2.2 million displaced inside Iraq.
The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has more than doubled, according to the Iraqi Red Cresent Society.
The number of Iraqis who have fled their homes but remained in the country has more than doubled to 1.14 million, despite the "surge" in numbers of US troops in recent months, according to a leading humanitarian organisation.
Statistics collected by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society showed 447,000 internally displaced Iraqis on January 1, soaring to the current figure on July 1 after the deployment of 30,000 extra American personnel starting in February.
The latest figures show that 60,000 Iraqis flee their homes each month.
Latest figures from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, show the number of Iraqis fleeing their homes is rising.
The latest figure is 60,000 per month, compared to a previous level of 50,000, a UNHCR spokeswoman said.
The body estimates 4.2m Iraqis have been displaced since the 2003 invasion. Of those, two million have gone abroad.
Of those displaced inside Iraq, more than half have fled since the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006, which sparked a wave of sectarian conflict.
UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said many Iraqis were struggling to get the basic necessities for daily life.
"Iraqis are finding it harder to get access to social services inside Iraq and many Iraqis are choosing to leave ethnically mixed areas before they are forced to do so," she said.
"Some Iraqis who stayed in the country until the end of the school year recently started leaving the country with their families."