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U.N. closes Iraq health programs for lack of funding

The United Nations has suspended health program reaching a million people across Iraq because of massive under-funding

Published: Updated:

The United Nations has suspended health program reaching a million people across Iraq because of massive under-funding, it said on Monday.

The U.N. said in a statement that “184 front line health services have been suspended because of the paralyzing funding shortfall for humanitarian activities in Iraq.”

“More than 80 percent of general health programs supported by humanitarian partners are now shut, directly impacting one million people,” it said.

“At a time when the people of Iraq need us the most, we are letting them down,” the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said.

The U.N. said that the lack of funding meant that half a million children would not be immunized, leading to a risk of measles outbreak and the re-emergence of polio.

The funding shortfall had already led to the sharp reduction of food rations for one million people.

Around a third of water, sanitation and hygiene programs had already been closed and more will suffer the same fate by the end of July, it said.

Among the other consequences of the funding crisis, the U.N. said its programs assisting women and girls who have survived sexual violence would also be cut back.

On June 4, the U.N. launched an appeal for half a billion dollars to tackle the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where conflict has displaced more than three million people since the start of 2014.

“To date, only 15 percent of this has been secured,” the U.N. said, despite what it said was the most “pared-to-the bone appeal ever launched in the region.”

Grande had warned at the time that 10 million Iraqis were likely to need life-saving assistance by the end of 2015.

“Although some support is coming in, it’s devastating, inexplicable really, that we are being forced to shut down programs in a country where so much is at stake and where the international community is so involved,” Grande said in Monday’s statement.

The first major wave of displacement came when militants took control of parts of Anbar province in early 2014.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s nationwide offensive in June last year brought Iraq to the brink of collapse.

While Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and neighboring Iran, have clawed back some land, several regions remain wracked by violence and few of the displaced are able to return to their homes.