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New drone footage captures catastrophic damage in Iraqi city of Ramadi

Click to play video: 'Drone footage shows the extent of the destruction in Iraqi town of Ramadi'
Drone footage shows the extent of the destruction in Iraqi town of Ramadi
WATCH: The International Red Cross released rare aerial footage shot in June showing the once busy city of Ramadi reduced to a ghost town – Jul 5, 2016

Newly released drone footage aims to highlight the destruction and suffering in Iraq and Syria after years of conflict in the neighbouring countries.

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said the footage it gathered demonstrates the “unprecedented” levels of strife.

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The ICRC is calling on “people with influence over the conflict[s]” to protect the millions of people displaced by the violence or living with the effects of it on a daily basis.

“Hundreds of thousands killed; millions on the move; families torn apart,” ICRC president Peter Maurer said in a news release. “Even as Ramadan comes to an end, many, many ordinary people are living in abject fear and terrifying uncertainty. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding.”

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In the hard-hit Iraqi city of Ramadi, once home to roughly 500,000 people, the views from above show homes, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure reduced to piles of shattered cinder blocks and broken slabs of concrete.

The city’s teaching hospital was rendered inoperable, its lower floors destroyed. A bullet-riddled ambulance sits outside the  battered building. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the destruction in city.

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The United Nations earlier this year called the “staggering” damage in Ramadi, just 100 kilometres from Baghdad, “worse than any other part of Iraq.”

A report from the Associated Press in May of this year estimated more than 3,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, along with some 400 roads and bridges, between the time the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS) took control of the city in May 2015 and when Iraqi forces regained control of it in late December.

“Explosive remnants of war are scattered across the city and most people are too afraid to return to homes,” ICRC said in its statement. “It will take months, if not years, to make the city safe again and to rebuild homes and damaged water and electric systems.

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The ICRC said the situation for the people of Iraq and Syria is only deteriorating further.

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The humanitarian organization said more than 10 million people have been internally displaced in Iraq and neighbouring Syria — where the five-year-old civil war and the fight against ISIS in that country have led to widespread devastation and the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people.

“All parties to armed conflict – and I mean ‘all parties’ – are bound by these norms and customs of war. Because they are the basis of our common humanity,” Mauer said. “The people need leaders who believe in humanity. Who protect, homes, schools and hospitals. Who protect civilians and treat people they capture with respect.”

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