BAGHDAD, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A large population of displaced people in Iraq's western Anbar province may offer insurgent groups a place to hide, a risk analyst said Friday.
The United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks reported Friday more than 260,000 people have been displaced by violence in Anbar province in the last four weeks.
Jared Levy, an Iraqi consultant who once served as a senior analyst on the Middle East for Dunia Frontier Consultants, a risk analysis group, told IRIN the displacement issue was a growing concern in Iraq.
"There is a concern, when you have large population displacements, insurgents can use that as a cover and they may embed themselves," he said.
Sunnis in Anbar last year protested Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying he was sidelining their community. U.S. officials this week testified al-Qaida was exploiting the political fissures in Iraq.
Nickolay Mladenov, U.N. special envoy to Iraq, said aid was still getting in to those who need it in the western province.
"The United Nations continues to provide aid to those affected by the fighting in Anbar, despite the challenges posed by the deteriorating security environment and ongoing operations in the province," he said in a statement Thursday.
U.S. forces twice battled insurgents in Anbar before combat operations ended in 2011.