NRC has finished a first distribution of relief items to families displaced by the conflict in Anbar. “This came just in time, as some of us sleep on the ground”, explained a woman when receiving mattresses, kitchenware and other basic household items.
More than 560,000 people have been displaced due to fighting in Anbar province in Iraq since late December 2013. The conflict in the province has evolved in the shadows of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, and the acute needs of the many displaced are far from being met.
"I have been in Abu Ghraib since January and this is the first time I receive any assistance", a displaced person told the team from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) during the distribution at the end of June.
NRC distributed basic household items to 560 displaced families in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, thanks to funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The packages included mattresses, light blankets, cover sheets, pillows, rugs, towels, re-chargeable table fan, kitchen kits, thermoses, dignity kits for women, soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes and mosquito nets.
“We left everything behind. The situation has been humiliating”, said one of the beneficiaries.
An assessment conducted by NRC in Abu Ghraib this spring revealed acute needs for shelter and basic household items. Most of the displaced are renting houses; others are accommodated in mosques, schools, unfinished private buildings or with their relatives. Their need for assistance is increasing, as their original resources are being depleted.
Many of the people who have been fleeing the violent conflict in Anbar are living in dire conditions, and have received very limited assistance.
- The difficult security situation and lack of financial support for the relief work, means that many people’s basic needs are not being met. Many families lack shelter and access to clean drinking water, says NRC’s Program Director in Iraq Rebecca Dibb.
The first humanitarian response plan for the Anbar crisis was less than 15 per cent funded, when a new response plan was launched in June, to also incorporate the needs in other areas of Iraq.
The fighting has spread to several provinces and has also intensified in parts of Anbar. An increasing number of displaced have arrived in Abu Ghraib, and many of the displaced have fled multiple times.
“The displaced are concerned about the security situation. Youth are afraid of being detained or kidnaped by armed groups, and many families sent elderly and women to receive the relief items from NRC”, says NRC’s Head of Programmes in Baghdad, Salah Noori.
In addition to the 560,000 people who have been displaced from Anbar so far this year, 650,000 Iraqis have been displaced from other provinces in June, bringing the total number of displaced this year to more than 1.2 million.