Iraq - On 16 September, IOM transported 210 internally displaced persons (IDPs), (36 families), from Khabat, a city on the road between Mosul and Erbil, to a newly built camp in Ainkawa, a neighborhood of Erbil, where they received IOM family non-food item (NFI) kits. The displaced families fled violence in Mosul and surrounding villages.
The IDPs were surviving thanks to the generosity of their neighbors in Khabat, with water and food provided by members of the local community. The families stayed in an unfinished building where there were no sanitary facilities, obliging family members to bathe with buckets in the open. As the IDPs siphoned electricity from a filling station across the street, a scavenged gas burner exploded, leaving them without stoves.
“I’m concerned about my children’s health here,” said Umm Ali, mother of the seven children who gathered around her as she spoke to IOM staff. “We have been in this unfinished building without doors and windows for 40 days. We have no access to medical services or education. We are happy to go to the camp, where conditions will be better.”
Due to the movement of displaced families who recently escaped to Erbil Governorate and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), there is an acute scarcity of facilities and materials to support IDPs. There are still numerous families living in mosques, schools, churches, and abandoned and unfinished buildings with little or no access to basic services. Erbil Governorate hosts an estimated 170,000 people displaced by the current crisis, based on IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).
“In cooperation with local authorities and UN agencies, IOM staff often work from dawn to dusk to provide much needed emergency aid for the most vulnerable Iraqi families,” says IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss. “Although it is still very hot here in northern Iraq, the winter will be fast approaching, and we still have a significant number of IDP families who need proper shelter and basic services. We are racing against time and doing our best to provide lifesaving assistance.”
IDPs who fled Mosul recounted stories of family members being killed by gunfire and of their initial 14-kilometer walk to flee the city. Many had to leave behind ill family members and those who were unable to escape. A police captain who fled Mosul said that he had to leave his pregnant wife as she was close to giving birth.
“I was hiding for a few weeks after the fall of Mosul, as I was hoping that I could organize the escape of my wife and two-year-old daughter. But it did not work; it was too risky. I had to leave on my own. Twenty days ago, my wife gave birth to my son Mustafa, who I still have not seen. I am in touch with them daily via phone. They live under even more miserable conditions than the conditions we are facing here. In Mosul, they don’t have food, water, or electricity. And they live in permanent fear. My wife and kids are changing houses every day, moving between friends, as the terrorists are trying to capture them because I am a police officer. They burned down my house as soon as they found out who I am.”
The police captain said to IOM staff, “Thank you for providing us with these household materials. My life will be much better at this camp than in Khabat, but I need to go back to Mosul. As soon as the city is liberated, I will be the first one to go back home and reunite with my family.”
Since the most recent crisis in Iraq began in January 2014, IOM has distributed 30,439 family NFI kits, reaching an estimated 182,634 Iraqis in need. IOM Iraq has also transported 18,164 IDPs such as those from Khabat to safer locations across Iraq.
“This transport operation and NFI distribution for 36 families displaced from Mosul illustrates the Mission’s efforts to assist beneficiaries across our different programmes,” says Thomas Lothar Weiss. “In the same camp where these families were transported to and accommodated, we will soon start livelihood projects to provide the IDPs with small business and vocational trainings. Our goal is to provide multi-service support for those who are most vulnerable so they can get back on their feet again and regain dignity.”
Regional authorities donated land for the IDP camp in Ankara. UN Agencies including UNHCR and UNICEF, and the NGO ACTED are providing for the IDPs’ basic needs.
IOM Iraq continues to address the current IDP crisis by providing NFIs, shelter, transport and livelihood restoration of displaced individuals and families across the country. Through coordination with local authorities and relevant UN partners, IOM will provide IDPs with winterization NFIs and shelters, primary health care support, psychological support and livelihood assistance, which will enhance socio-economic infrastructures of communities across Iraq.
Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) tool, IOM Iraq provides up to date biweekly snapshots presenting the conditions and needs of the displaced population across the country. According to IOM’s DTM, there are over 1.7 million IDPs across the country.
For more information please contact
IOM Iraq Communications Officer
Tel: + 964 751 234 2550