The United Nations assigned a "Level 3" grade, the highest level of emergency, to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
Wednesday's designation, a risk management description used to assess threat levels and follow pre-determined protocols for action, comes after Islamic State militants in Iraq isolated persecuted religious minorities in Iraq's Kurdish-held Sinjar mountains.
A statement by the United States, which sent a 20-person team to help evacuate the Yazidi religious community from the mountain range, said the Yazidis' situation was not as dire as they had expected -- the group's condition improved due to airdrops of humanitarian aid.
The U.N. decision came the same day the U.N. Security Council voted to support the appointment of Haider al-Abadi as Iraq's new prime minister. A Security Council statement urged Abadi "to work swiftly to form such a Government as quickly as possible and within the constitutional timeframe."
Abadi, appointed prime minister Tuesday, has 30 days to choose cabinet ministers and form a new government -- an administration many observers hope will be more inclusive than that of the current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.