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Christian Aid launches Iraq crisis appeal

Global development charity Christian Aid has launched an appeal to enable its partner organisations in northern Iraq to step up relief operations to help the thousands who have fled in the face of an offensive by insurgents in recent days.

Some half a million people are estimated to be on the move after fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured the city of Mosul and a number of other towns north of Baghdad.
Iraq Mosul
A large number of those fleeing have made their way into the north east of the country – some 200,000 of them to the city of Dohuk, and another 100,000 to the city of Erbil.

Relief services in that part of Iraq are already hard-pressed coping with tens of thousands of refugees who have arrived from the conflict in Syria in recent years.

Christian Aid’s humanitarian programmes manager, Adrian Ouvry, described the situation as 'a crisis on top of a crisis'. 

'Large numbers have fled to an area where there is already a serious humanitarian crisis as a result of the Syrian conflict,' he said.

‘Over 220,000 Syrian refugees are already in northern Iraq trying to escape the fighting in their own country. These emergencies are on a huge scale. There is an overwhelming need for help. 

‘Christian Aid partners will be stepping up their work to reach the new influx of internally displaced with food, water and hygiene and sanitation kits, with a view to move to longer team need such as cash for work later in the response.’ he added.

Christian Aid partner REACH already works with some of the most vulnerable refugee communities living in informal camps around Sulymaniyah and Erbil.

Hero Anwar, senior programme officer with REACH said helping the new arrivals from the latest conflict would now become a priority

‘For now we have to focus on emergency response,’ she said. ‘People cannot stay in a place where they are under threat. They have had to flee their homes with nothing. They need to basic items just to survive. With the support from Christian Aid we are able to respond.’

Christian Aid hopes ultimately to help some 50,000 of those most recently displaced. To find out more visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk/iraq

Elsewhere there were reports of aid agencies 'scrambling to respond' to the worsening humanitarian situation in Iraq, and several were calling on donors to respond to help the hundreds of thousands who had been displaced in just a few days. 

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a 11 June report that 'Most of the UN agencies do not have funds to continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance,' and called on donors to 'provide the necessary funding'.
'Our financial resources have already been spread very thin because of the whole situation in Anbar, and our ongoing support to Syrian Refugees,' Michael Bates, Iraq country director for the Danish Refugee Council, told the IRIN news service.
'For some time we have been pushing donors to get involved because already what we could cover for Anbar was minute in comparison to the needs, but now we are [possibly] looking at a million displaced people. I don’t see where this ends.'
Picture: IRIN
Baptist Times, 16/06/2014
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