On the morning of 27 and 28 July 2015, NRC’s distribution teams provided emergency food and hygiene items to more than 700 Iraqi families, living in and around the town of Shaqlawa, north-east of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). The vast majority of families have fled during the past weeks from Anbar Governorate, seeking refuge in the KR-I. Aid organisations and the KR-I government are battling to provide adequate relief to the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from across the country.
Fleeing from the violence in her hometown Fallujah, a city in the Iraqi province of Anbar, 30-year-old Nasrin Abdulkareem has little more than the clothes on her back. She patiently waits in line with her 6-year-old son Mohammad to receive the two boxes, containing canned food, laundry detergent, sanitary towels, dental care products, and soap. This should be enough to last Nasrin a week.
“We do not have any income and we have had to leave everything behind when we ran from the bombing,” Nasrin tells us. With her sick husband and three young children, Nasrin fled Fallujah some weeks ago. When exactly they left, she does not remember. All she remembers is leaving her husband’s taxi parked on the side of the road and going to Baghdad. “We were homeless for a while in Baghdad until we were given a tent. Here, in Shaqlawa, it is better, we have a small room here.”
Internal Displacement from Anbar
Iraq is currently facing one of the largest displacement crises in the world. During the past eighteen months, more than 3.1 million Iraqis have been internally displaced by conflict. This number includes some 300,000 people displaced from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Governorate, since April 2015.
The UN reports that the security situation remains fluid in Anbar Governorate as airstrikes and armed clashes continue throughout July. “Access routes are limited and safety and wellbeing of civilians stuck between military front lines and the checkpoints is at stake,” says NRC’s Country Director, Nasr Muflahi.
“People are on the move, seeking safety away from the violence. Thousands of people are in need of water, shelter, and hygiene items. NRC has been distributing relief items in the most affected areas,” Muflahi adds.
Further displacement is expected throughout 2015 due to ongoing or planned military operations in Anbar Governorate and Mosul.
Rapid Response Mechanism
Funded by UNICEF and the World Food Programme, NRC is part of a group of 10 agencies involved in frontline humanitarian assistance through the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM). Since December 2014, NRC has distributed kits to an estimated 15,000 displaced families in the Baghdad area. NRC has also been distributing food and hygiene items in Erbil, Anbar, and Salahaddin to meet the needs of displaced families.
In addition to the increasing number of internally displaced people across Iraq, continued conflict in Syria has increased the number of refugees in Iraq to almost 250,000 people. In Iraq, NRC offers assistance for Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs within the following sectors: Shelter, Education, Camp Management, Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response, and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene sectors. In April 2015, NRC also established an Information, Counselling & Legal Assistance (ICLA) programme operating out of its Dohuk, Erbil and Baghdad offices to support the work on housing, land and property rights and civil documentation.