The United Nations has declared a 'humanitarian crisis' in Iraq, terming the situation wherein civilians are at threat from the Islamic State militants a "Level 3 emergency", its highest level of emergency.
The UN decision came on Wednesday night after four children were killed on the northern outskirts of Baghdad in clashes between the Sunni militants and the government troops.
The declaration of the emergency can bring in more funds and humanitarian aid to the region that has been in turmoil over the last few months, ever since the militant outfit, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ran over towns.
In one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the Middle East nation, thousands of the minority Yazidis who had fled under the fear of persecution by the militants were trapped for days on a mountain without food and water, and several nations such as the United States and Britain have been airdropping food and water packages to them.
1.2 million people have been displaced since June after the Islamic State militants began their offensive to topple the Shia towns and the government.
The United States on Wednesday said that it would not carry out rescue operations in Iraq, claiming that most of the Yazidis who were trapped on Mount Sinjar have been evacuated.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down from his post on Thursday after pressure growing internally and from abroad, especially from US President Barack Obama, to step aside and bring in moderate Shia leader Haider al-Abadi.
"I announce before you today, to facilitate the political process and to form a new government, that I withdraw my candidacy in favor of the brother Dr. Haider al-Abadi, and all that goes with that in order to preserve the high interests of the country," Maliki was quoted saying by The New York Times.