Geneva/Baghdad – 25 June 2014 The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to be alarming as the number of families displaced by violence is rising every day. A massive displacement started in the country on 10 June after the deterioration of the security situation in the provinces of Nineveh, Salah Al-Din and Diyala. Kurdistan has become the safe zone for many of the people fleeing Mosul, a city with a population of 3 million. Many people are staying in the open and are in urgent need of shelter, water, latrines, and food.
The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has responded to the situation by mobilizing over 4,000 volunteers and resources to assist those displaced by violence. They have immediately started to provide aid and to distribute food, water and tents in Dohuk, Erbil, Nineveh, Kirkuk, Diwaniya, Missan, Wasat and Najaf. More than 40,000 families were reached through food support and around 200,000 people with water.
Hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes are being sheltered in hastily set-up transit camps. A considerable number are also being accommodated in schools and mosques. Many families and individuals are beginning to struggle to find financial resources to support themselves beyond the end of the month, and both host families and displaced people are vulnerable to financial constraints.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society are concerned about the breakdown in infrastructure and health services in some areas, where people lack access to electricity and basic services. These problems, exacerbated by a severe shortage of fuel, may also hamper the delivery of assistance to vulnerable population.
Dr Yassin al-Ma’amouri, President of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, said the National Society was concerned about the conditions of thousands of families. “The fears grow from a deteriorating health situation and the spread of diseases among the displaced families, especially diarrhoea and intestinal colic in children, as well as depriving the majority of children of polio vaccination,” he said.
“In terms of food aid, we face a great pressure in transporting food and relief items to the displaced families, due to the inaccessibility to many areas as the roads leading to the major cities continue to be blocked.”
Further major displacement is expected towards the Kurdistan region if the security situation continues to deteriorate. Five camps are currently being established, with a maximum capacity of 7,000 families per camp or 35,000 in total. Taking into account the current caseload, assessments indicate that either Dohuk or Erbil, the major current refuge for internally displaced people, will not absorb increased numbers in host families or camps.
Displacement brings further challenges beyond the immediate needs of food and shelter. The IFRC will work closely with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society to ensure the psychosocial needs of those who may have witnessed terrible violence are also managed as these can have a major impact on future generations.
The IFRC has provided funds through its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for 366,000 Swiss francs, to support the society in its efforts to replenish and provide non-food items stocks for 20,000 people (4,000 families). An emergency appeal will be launched this week to provide essential assistance to 180,000 displaced in Kurdistan region and to support the response capacity of the Iraqi Red Crescent.