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IOM: Displaced, vulnerable Iraqis need assistance in cold winter months

IOM: Displaced, vulnerable Iraqis need assistance in cold winter months

2019/01/15 | 17:23

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned on Tuesday that displaced and other vulnerable populations in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region ill-equipped to deal with freezing winter temperatures are in urgent need of support. Of the 1.8 million people who remain displaced as a result of the conflict with the Islamic State, over 500,000 are in camps and 140,000 live in makeshift tents, schools, religious buildings, or abandoned structures, an IOM statement said. Of the more than four million previously displaced that have gone back to their areas of origin since mid-2015, many continue to live in “precarious conditions.” “Although displaced households are continuing to return to their home communities, those remaining in camps or informal settlements are often the most vulnerable and have little to protect themselves against the cold winter conditions,” Gerard Waite, the organization’s Chief of Mission in Iraq, stated. IOM is the world’s leading organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners such as the UN and various donor nations. The organization recently completed a three-month distribution of 25,000 winter non-food item kits that include heaters and blankets to meet the most urgent needs of 150,000 vulnerable individuals across the country. IOM’s winterization assistance reached 13,000 displaced households in camps, thousands of displaced families in informal settlements, and thousands of others who are back in their original home communities. “As people return home, many have found their personal belongings stolen and their houses damaged. With massive destruction in areas of return and limited economic opportunities, returnee households are exposed to the harsh effects of winter and are unable to afford items to cope with the cold,” the statement continued. “Despite the success of this winter response operation, we are extremely concerned for the many Iraqis who remain in displacement who will have to endure another harsh winter in camps and in sub-standard shelters,” Alberto Preato, Head of IOM Iraq’s Preparedness and Response Unit, said. On Saturday, the new Iraqi Minister of Displacement and Migration, Nawfal Moussa, said his ministry was working to secure a “dignified return” for those displaced within Iraq. In December, UNICEF drew attention to the large number of displaced families that live below the poverty line in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, in dilapidated housing with inadequate heating, or in camps with little protection from the cold, for whom it was impossible to afford fuel for heating and winter clothing to keep their children warm. “The devastating floods have made this winter even more difficult for displaced children who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases. No child should be subjected to such risks. Every child deserves to be warm and healthy,” a UNICEF statement read. The UN children’s emergency agency reported that it was providing winter clothes including boots, scarves, and hats to approximately 161,000 children in Sinjar (Shingal), Erbil, Duhok, Nineveh, Anbar, Diwaniya, Basra, Salahuddin, Baghdad, and Sulaimani, including through cash support. Its winter campaign aims to reach the most vulnerable children, aged between three months and 14 years of age, living in camps for the internally displaced and in hard-to-reach areas. However, over the past few years, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials have repeatedly called on the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced people residing in the Kurdistan Region, stating most of the burden lies on the shoulders of the KRG and its people as aid from international organizations is very limited. Editing by Karzan Sulaivany







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