The efforts of humanitarian actions come together by the National Humanitarian Societies in countries suffering from wars and disasters, and its actions emerged during wars and beyond in order to prevent and alleviate human suffering, and Iraq has witnessed cases of wars and conflicts that have caused the destruction of cities and displacement of citizens.
The German Red Cross, which is one of the members of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is one of the active national societies in humanitarian work in Iraq, to find out about its most prominent work and projects, we met Dr. Tamer Ramadan, Director of the German Red Cross office in Iraq.
– What is the extent of cooperation and partnership between the German Red Cross and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society?
– The German Red Cross has been in Iraq since 2014, we have a representative in Iraq, and we have a permanent office in Dohuk, and we also have a project manager in Mosul, and all efforts are in concert with the Iraqi Red Crescent to serve the affected people, but the focus is now on the displaced people returning to western Nineveh.
The support is represented by providing unconditional financial grants so that the returnees can meet their daily needs, we provide the financial grant and it is not required to disburse it in a specific way, there are donors who require to disburse the funds for health, schools and so on, but the German Red Cross gives the money to the returnees to meet all needs without stipulating the payment method, this project continues from 2019 until 2020, we have worked in (Tal Afar, Duhok, Erbil, Soran and Koya), and the total number of beneficiaries so far has reached (6300) beneficiaries.
In addition to that, we support not only the returnees, but the local community, which is represented in the rehabilitation of schools in the areas of Tal Afar, Zammar, Rabia and Ayyadiyah, and what can be indicated is that some donors work on water and sanitation, while the German Red Cross works on everything other than water and sanitation, such as rehabilitating classes, preparing wooden school desks, adding to the electrical works, carpentry, dyes, lighting, and equipping sports stadiums.
We know that the returnee after returning to his area and receive the financial assistance will send his children to schools with the existing local community, and when the children enter schools he will find decent schools, in which all the basic needs for student are available, and this is very important for the psychological state of children, and we are intensely interested in elementary schools because children are victims of wars, and they have been displaced to the camps, and they are new returnees from the camps, also they still do not have a place to settle in, and they do not have work, so we are trying to help them.
– What messages can be sent through this partnership?
– The German Red Cross, in cooperation and participation with the Iraqi Red Crescent, is very concerned with human dignity and supporting the most vulnerable groups in community, and we are present to carry out humanitarian tasks without conditions, when we provide assistance we do not ask about religion, nationality, race, or political interest, the human is in need of assistance, his case is being studied and we help to all those in need regardless of anything else, and this is in line with the basic principles of the international movement which stipulate neutrality, impartiality, and humanity.
– What are your other concerns in light of the global pandemic?
– We support the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in facing the epidemic by supporting the health department to produce awareness films that are broadcast via the internet and on the Iraqi Red Crescent official page on the social media, adding to support awareness campaigns in Mosul, Dohuk and Erbil by publishing posters and awareness campaigns in places where citizens gather, these campaigns aim to educate citizens how to protect oneself and family from the spread of Covid-19 and the importance of wearing masks in public places, and this is part of the support we provide to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society currently.
– What are your future plans and programs?
– Our future programs are summarized in supporting livelihood projects, and we will pay special attention to marginalised and vulnerable groups, as we will qualify them by not fully relying on financial grants by training them in some handicrafts or work that generate profit for them, such as shaving, sewing, blacksmithing, etc., and we will determine the most poor categories to undergo trainings and then give them small financial grants to start their projects, and the support will be just for the project so that the citizen will be able in the end to provide a decent living for his family regardless of the societies that provide financial grants, and this project will start in the month of September, and will continue for four years.
The German Red Cross will also support first aid, as we support the health department in developing the first aid approach, as well as printing a first aid guide for the Iraqi Red Crescent.
And the projects provided by the German Red Cross have escalated since 2014 until now and developed, as the beginnings were with assistance when needed, then became medium-term projects from two to three years, then now we have long-term projects for five years or more, and with the development of poverty in Iraqi community, the projects develop as well, and support will increase year after year from the reality of the needs on the ground.
– What is your assessment of the general situation and work with the Red Crescent and the international movement?
We are very fortunate to work with the Iraqi Red Crescent, with its highly qualified teams at work, and they have flexibility in cooperation, also we are very fortunate to cooperate with branches and the Headquarters as they are committed to supporting activities, we focus on the returnees and the west Nineveh region on considering that it is one of the most poor areas, but this does not deny that in the coming years we will spread in other areas, which will be identified and provide support in cooperation with the Iraqi Red Crescent.
I am very optimistic that there are many areas have crossed the crisis, in the stages of wars the support is rapid in the urgent needs, but after the war, in the recovery phase, the support will be for more sustainable projects, I am very optimistic, Iraq in many areas is turning into an area of recovery, we are ready to implement sustainable and long-term projects in the areas that we mentioned above.
We have another part in the work and inside all our projects is the risk reduction project, supporting schools and first aid training, and we are now preparing projects for risk reduction inside schools, this project was supposed to be implemented previously and stopped the support from others, We now have the possibility to revive this project.
The international movement is represented by the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies inside Iraq, and I find that this is a wealth for the humanitarian work, and there is very great cooperation between us, with the coordination of the International Federation and the support and supervision of the Iraqi Red Crescent, and each of the partners has an area to work on and has experiences in it, and all this when collaborating efforts are in the interest of the Iraqi community, and of course the presence of many different Red Cross and Red Crescent societies inside Iraq, or even the support that comes from the international movement societies from outside Iraq is a very great wealth for the human community.
In conclusion: I offer my heartfelt thanks to the volunteers of the Red Crescent, without them the work would not have been carried out with quality and respect for the beneficiaries, and without them neither we nor any other association in Iraq could work, for these are the real wealth of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, I thank the volunteers of the Iraqi Red Crescent, and I thank the leaders of the Iraqi Red Crescent at the level of the general headquarters or at the level of branches because they are very cooperative with us, and they overcome any obstacles that may face us.