By Magdalena Mis
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Up to 50,000 displaced Iraqi families in the Kirkuk area are being neglected by international aid groups despite sheltering in areas accessible to humanitarian organizations, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) said on Friday.
Only a handful of local organizations are providing essential items including food, hygiene kits and blankets, but the aid is sporadic and does not cover even the basic needs of the uprooted families, said MSF.
"So far the majority of the funds and attention of the international community (have) focused on Iraqi Kurdistan," Fabio Forgione, MSF's head of mission in Iraq, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Having worked in Kirkuk now for years and having increased our activities in the last few months, we do see the possibility for other international organizations to intervene."
More than two million people have been displaced by an Islamic State offensive in Iraq this year and almost half of them have sought refuge in Kurdistan.
The remaining displaced Iraqis, especially in the Kirkuk region, have been neglected, said Forgione.
"We do see large gaps in most of the fields of humanitarian assistance," he said.
Many people who are staying in unfinished buildings, disused farms or schools are suffering illnesses caused in part by limited access to basics such as water, sanitation and food.
Local authorities have started relocating some families to a new camp for refugees, but without basic services like water and sanitation, the camp is far from finished, said Forgione.
"That's also our concern - having families being moved to areas that are definitely not suitable to allow decent living conditions," he said.
The refugee population in Kirkuk has been steadily growing and has more than doubled since July, without a comparable increase in humanitarian assistance, said Forgione.
"We might end up in extremely deteriorating situation which for us is a real concern," he said.
(Reporting By Magdalena Mis; Editing by Ros Russell)