‘Eating grass and plants’: besieged Fallujah residents desperate, says UN

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Iraq on Friday to show support for its prime minister as he grapples with a political crisis, a collapsing economy and a fitful fight to retake ground from Islamic State militants.

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“The Secretary will underscore our strong support for the Iraqi government as it addresses significant security, economic, and political challenges,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The United Nations and aid officials say they are “extremely worried” about the humanitarian situation in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where as many as 50,000 people reportedly facing starvation.

The Iraqi city has been under the control of the so-called Islamic State for several years.

Fallujah has been experiencing widespread shortages of food and medicine in the recent months, the UN said.

Aid has not reached Fallujah since the government recaptured nearby Ramadi from IS in December 2015, with supply routes cut off by Iraqi forces and IS, preventing civilians from leaving.

Communication is difficult as IS prohibits the use of mobile phones and the internet.

Senior UN official Lise Grande told UN Radio officials are urgently negotiating with Iraqi security forces.

“We’re extremely worried about what’s happening,” Ms Grande said.

“Since the siege started to tighten, we have been in intense negotiations with civilian and military authorities to open a humanitarian aid corridor. In fact, just last week the government of Iraq officially wrote to me and indicated that they intend to open safe corridors.”

“The intention is to help families through the security forces to escape.

Human Rights Watch is calling for Iraqi government forces to urgently allow aid to enter the city.

It says the Iraqi army, backed by air strikes from a US-led coalition – has maintained a near total siege on Fallujah, while there are reports that IS is executing residents who try to leave the city.

Human Rights Watch researcher, Christophe Vilke, said he received accounts given by two women in who managed to contact activists.

“They say they eat nothing.  They give whatever they have to their children.  And what they have is very little. But they may have something that’s already stored in the house,” Mr Vilke said.

“They’ve taken to crushing up seeds of dates to make flour out of, and some very unappetizing looking bread that they can cook over the stove.  There’s also a report of, maybe ten days ago, a woman casting herself into the Euphrates River that falls by the city of Fallujah, drowning herself and her two young children with her, because she couldn’t provide food for them.”

Other Fallujah residents who were able to make contact with groups outside the city say many people have resorted to , as food shortages continue.

Residents of Fallujah in #Iraq are starving at the hands of #ISIS and government forces. 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/SVXG1bkJG8 pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/5TuHhtwT9o

— Edward Herbert (@ed_herbert) April 7, 2016