GENEVA (AFP) - The number of internally displaced Iraqis could top one million by the end of 2007 as the security situation continues to deteriorate, the International Office for Migration has said.

In the last three weeks alone, almost 18,000 people have been displaced in the 15 central and southern governorates of Iraq, taking the overall number of displaced people from these regions to 290,000 since February 2006, the IOM said Friday.

"With no sign of further displacement ending and with the possibility of surrounding borders being closed to Iraqi refugees, IOM estimates that as many as an additional one million people could be displaced this year," the agency said in a statement.

This comes on top of the 1.4 million already displaced in the violence-wracked country before 2006, it added.

IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya said the scale of displacement was placing a great and growing burden on the communities where these people were seeking shelter, and in some instances fuelling the insurgency.

Over 46 percent of the internally displaced people have told the IOM they have not received any food assistance, and many are staying in dilapidated buildings which often lack electricity, insulation and sanitation.

Some children aged between 10 and 14 in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, are reported to have joined local insurgents, either for money or for revenge for incidents against family members, she said.

She also appealed to the international community to be more generous in its financial donations as the IOM's work in the country becomes ever more difficult.

"Last year our appeal for 25 million dollars (19 million euros) for Iraq was only 25 percent covered. This year we are asking for 50 million dollars and so far we have received even less confirmed funding than we did last year," Pandya said.

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