On 10 June, the humanitarian situation in Iraq took a dramatic turn when the security situation in the provinces of Nineveh, Salah Al-Din and Diyala deteriorated. This has resulted in a massive displacement of people in the country. Kurdistan has become the safe zone for many of the IDP’s moving out of Mosul. The population of Mosul is 3 million. With the increasing threat of airstrikes on Mosul in the close future, there is an expectation that there will be a large influx of displaced persons in the coming days. It is currently difficult to ascertain the exact number of people who have been displaced, but the UN estimated some 500,000 people have been forced out of their homes to seek refuge with relatives, in schools, mosques, tents as well as buildings still under construction, and the number continues to rise due to the deteriorating situation.
Q: How is the Iraqi Red Crescent Society responding to the humanitarian needs in Iraq?
When militants seized the city of Mosul and a large number of its people started to flee in one main direction towards Kurdistan Region, the Iraqi Red Crescent teams were first on the ground and started to provide food and water to the citizens. Tens of thousands of people were flocked on the roads leading to Dohuk and Erbil cities before authorities allowed them to enter. The total number of people who received assistance exceeded 40,000.
The Iraqi Red Crescent volunteers continue until this moment to provide lifesaving aid to a large number of displaced people from different parts of Iraq, including most recently, the relief operations carried out by our volunteers in Sinjar, the very small town which witnesses a large influx of displaced families, and where the number of displaced families has reached more than 7,000 families.
Q: What is the top humanitarian concern for the Iraqis at the moment?
The fears grow from deteriorating health situation and the spread of diseases among the displaced families, especially diarrhea and intestinal colicin children, as well as depriving the majority of children of polio vaccination; this might lead to significant concerns amongst thousands of families. On the other hand, in what concerns food aids, the Iraqi Red Crescent teams 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.
Q: In case of any deterioration, how does your National Society plan to respond?
While our staff and volunteers continue to deliver essential services to the affected population in Anbar province which has been witnessing an increase of violence in recent months, we are working around the clock to ensure the sustainability of our delivery and support to the ongoing situation. The support of our partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and our donors is very crucial in this aspect, to ensure we are meeting the needs of the appeal that was launched by our National Society.We also plan to launch an emergency appeal with the IFRC to support our ongoing operations and response to the increasing needs of the displaced families.
We had to suspend activities in some other areas in order to mobilize our full resources towards relief operations in the regions where displaced people sought refuge from Mosul province. The Iraqi government in its turn is working on increasing allocations urgently to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced people.
We should also take into consideration the existing influx of Syrian refugees into Iraq as well as the old internal displacement of Iraqis. This requires a serious stand from our National Society to continue alleviating the human suffering and urgently support displaced families.
Adding to these existing challenges, Iraq witnesses violence which raises many concerns and results in a great number of casualties, due to mass killings, malpractices, collective punishments, and basic services and lifesaving supplies cut off. Many Iraqis in the areas suffering from these alarming events continue to face critical living and psychological conditions which will have far greater impact on future generations.