lmost 6,000 internally displaced persons have received core relief items, distributed by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in the city of Diyalla, East of Baghdad, ahead of the Eid holidays in Iraq, which ran from 4 - 9 October. Fighting has forced millions to flee their homes in Iraq since December 2014.
“We made a real breakthrough and I am sure the IDPs are breathing a sigh of relief. This is the first relief assistance for the many IDPs in and around Ba’aquba, living out of camp settings,” says Basil Khudair, DRC’s Protection Team Leader.
The province of Diyalla, situated north-east of Baghdad, is currently hosting around 13,000 IDP families. Most of them fled from areas where fighting is taking place between the government forces and the armed opposition groups. In the district of Muqdadiya for example, several of the families who lived in neighboring villages left their homes to avoid the air strikes and shelling.
“Many of our families walked several kilometers, under extremely hot weather condition, without food or water, before reaching the relatively safe areas in and around Ba’aquba. Others are still trapped and don't know where to escape,” according to one of the family heads interviewed during the beneficiaries verification. “We are among the lucky ones, who managed to make our way out, and there are many others in Muqdadiyah,” he added.
Funding from Sida and ECHO has enabled DRC’s mobile protection team deployed in Diyala to distribute food, non-food items and hygiene kits from 23 September and on to 2 October 2014. The beneficiaries, totaling nearly 6,000 individuals came from nine IDP hosting communities including Kanaan, Abara, Tahreer, Gatoon, and Altahreer; as well as from Jurf Almilih, Almualmeen, New Ba’aquba and 7 Nissan.
Also among the beneficiaries was a Christian family from Mosul. The family head, a professional driver, who preferred not to be named, told the DRC team:
"We are really in need of every item that has been provided because we left everything behind: our clothes, bed sheets, cooking utensils and everything.”
The UN reports that there are up to 1.8 million new IDPs in Iraq due to the upsurge in sectarian violence, which started earlier this year in Anbar and further escalated into Mosul and several other parts of the country. Some of the IDPs have been displaced multiple times citing conditions insecurity and intolerance in their previous location of displacement. Besides relief assistance, more initiatives are necessary to enhance local acceptance and integration among the IDPs and the host communities.
This latest distribution of core relief items came on top of DRC’s ongoing protection intervention (funded by Sida and UNHCR), which aims to monitor and document critical protection needs, provide core relief assistance and promote local integration and respect for the rights of IDPs through community dialogue meetings in the governorates of Diyalla and Baghdad. Approximately 930 protection-related cases have been documented over the past one month; and two dialogue meetings, to promote social cohesion and IDP rights, are planned to be held in the last week of October in Ba’aquba and Muqdadiyah.
Since 2003, DRC has been active in Iraq with operations presently in the governorates of Erbil, Duhok, Baghdad, Kerbala, Anbar, Najaf and Diyalla.