Flags of several countries, representing the United Nations.As Iraq hovers once again on the brink of an all-out sectarian civil war, citizens of the cities seeing the most tension are either trapped in the heat of battle, or fleeing their homes in the hope of finding safety. The Anbar crisis, centered around political tensions between the Parliament backed Shiite Muslims, and the al-Qaeda backed Sunni Muslims has created a militant zone in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the Anbar province. The dire situation there has displaced many families, endangered many more, and has sent the death count in the region soaring.

Resources are Running Low

The conflict within the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah has made traveling in and out of the cities difficult, and extremely dangerous. Local authorities have warned citizens to stay away, and the streets surrounding these cities are basically deserted for at least five miles out.

This means no food, water, or medical resources are coming in and out of the cities. Any hospitals and clinics that have managed to stay open are running out of supplies, and they have no way of helping the sick and injured. A brief lull in the action allowed markets to reopen this week, but there looks to be no immediate end to the conflict, so conditions probably won’t improve much any time soon.

Getting in to Give Help is Difficult

The UN and other humanitarian organizations are working hard to bring aid to the people of Anbar, but they are blocked in many cases. Traveling to the region is impossible, and communication is broken down, so it’s very difficult to assess the needs of the people in the region. Even if supplies can be arranged for drop off, ensuring safe passage and delivery is a serious challenge. With such a volatile situation, providing aid is slow-going, when it is even possible.

Assisting Refugees

Many families from Anbar have decided to take their chances and flee their cities, rather than risk death and injury at home. Iraqi Red Crescent officials estimate that around 13,000 families have fled to the nearby provinces of Baghdad, Karbala, and Salahuddin. They say they have been able to help around 8,000 of these families so far. It’s likely that many humanitarian efforts will be focused on assisting these families for now, and looking for opportunities to provide more help within Anbar.