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August 11, 2014
Numbers At A Glance
Up to 1.4 million
Escalating insecurity in northern Iraq triggers massive population displacement, causing as many as 200,000 people to flee their homes between August 3 and 8.
The United States conducts airdrops of food and water for conflict-displaced Iraqis stranded on Sinjar Mountain.
USAID deploys a team of humanitarian response experts to Iraq to expedite additional assistance to IDPs and other conflict-affected populations.
Since early June, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its allied militias have clashed with Government of Iraq (GoI) and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) security forces throughout northern and central Iraq, particularly in Al Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din governorates. On August 2, ISIL forces began seizing control of several areas in Ninewa Governorate, including Sinjar and Tal Afar districts. The insecurity displaced up to 200,000 people—predominantly from the Yezidi and other minority groups—between August 3 and 8, according to the U.N.
While relief organizations in Iraq are working to scale up emergency response efforts for populations in need countrywide, humanitarian access remains a significant constraint, preventing relief actors from fully assessing needs and from reaching the most conflict-affected areas.
On August 7, U.S. President Barack H. Obama authorized two operations in Iraq: a humanitarian effort to help thousands of Iraqi civilians surrounded by ISIL forces on Ninewa Governorate’s Sinjar Mountain without food or water, and targeted airstrikes to protect U.S. personnel and assist allied forces in Iraq as they attempt to protect civilians.
To date, the United States has airdropped food rations and safe drinking water for IDPs on Sinjar and supported the provision of additional emergency aid, including food assistance, relief items, health care, and shelter support, to other IDPs in northern Iraq.
In addition, USAID is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team—comprising USAID humanitarian response experts—to Iraq to help coordinate USG efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs throughout the conflict-affected areas of northern and central Iraq. The team will work closely with local officials, the international community, and humanitarian actors to identify critical needs and expedite assistance to affected populations.
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS AND POPULATION DISPLACEMENT
Active conflict in northern and central Iraq continues to prompt population displacement while simultaneously hindering people’s movements. In late July, OCHA estimated that up to five million people across Iraq—including IDPs and host communities—may be residing in areas with active fighting. Civilians in these areas may be unable to move away from conflict or access humanitarian assistance and essential goods, according to OCHA.
More than 500,000 IDPs in northern and central Iraq may be sheltering in areas difficult to access by humanitarian actors, according to estimates included in an August 7 briefing note on the humanitarian impacts of the Iraq violence produced by the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS). Particularly hard-to-reach locations include areas of Anbar, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din governorates, including ISIL-besieged or ISIL-held areas, such as the city of Mosul in Ninewa Governorate.
As a result of the early August advance by ISIL, approximately 200,000 IDPs from Sinjar District and other areas of Ninewa Governorate fled their homes, with an estimated 180,000 crossing into Dohuk Governorate in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), according to the U.N. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people also fled onto the nearby Sinjar mountain ridge—where many IDPs were surrounded by ISIL forces and stranded without access to food and safe drinking water while enduring extreme temperatures. According to recent international media reports, thousands of civilians descended Sinjar Mountain on August 9 and 10 with assistance from Kurdish security forces.
At the request of the GoI and to help meet the urgent needs of people who cannot be reached by humanitarian organizations, the U.S. military—in close coordination with USAID—on August 7 began airdropping life-saving food rations and safe drinking water to the IDPs on Sinjar Mountain to supplement GoI airdrop efforts. As of August 10, the U.S. military had delivered more than 74,000 meals ready to eat and more than 15,000 gallons of drinking water.
In response to the growing number of Iraqi IDPs, State/PRM provided an additional $6.6 million in mid-June to UNHCR for emergency relief items. The new funding increased State/PRM’s total FY 2014 contribution to UNHCR to a total of $96.7 million for displaced Iraqis in the region.
Also in mid-June, State/PRM allocated an additional $6.2 million to support the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other international organizations to provide IDPs with food, safe drinking water, health care services and emergency relief supplies. In FY 2014 to date, State/PRM has provided more than $130 million in humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected and displaced populations in Iraq.
In addition, USAID/OFDA recently committed $1 million to an NGO partner to provide new IDPs with emergency relief items and cash assistance for housing costs. Building on an existing emergency cash distribution and relief commodities program in Iraq, the partner plans to work through local organizations to distribute items, including kitchen sets, household kits, and hygiene kits, as well as cash assistance, to vulnerable IDP households
The Food Security Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian food security activities, comprising U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders—reports that IDPs, particularly IDPs in transit to areas of safety, and host communities are vulnerable and in need of food assistance, according to ACAPS. In early August, OCHA noted that large numbers of newly arrived IDPs in Dohuk Governorate and Sinjar District, Ninewa Governorate, are in need of food assistance.
Between August 2 and 8, humanitarian actors assisted more than 110,000 IDPs in Dohuk Governorate through the provision of food rations and the operation of field kitchens at IDP collective centers in Sharya, Bajet Kandala, and Khaneke, according to OCHA.
On August 4, USAID/FFP authorized the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) to utilize for its Iraq emergency operation approximately 15 metric tons of USAID-provided meal replacement bars already in country. The bars— sufficient to benefit an estimated 31,000 people—contain a complete daily ration of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates and are fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals. On August 5, WFP began distributing the USAID meal replacement bars to newly displaced individuals in and around the city of Dohuk. With separate support, WFP also provided the new IDPs with hot meals and three-day emergency rations containing canned tuna, beans, vegetables, dates, and halawa, a sweet food made with sesame paste.
WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE (WASH)
Humanitarian actors have expressed concern that ISIL and allied militias are strategically targeting WASH infrastructure, including sewage treatment plants, water distribution systems, and water treatment facilities. As of early August, armed groups had limited the electricity and safe drinking water for up to 70,000 people in Talkif District, Ninewa Governorate, according to OCHA.
In areas with high IDP concentrations, WASH access is a major concern as new arrivals strain already limited water resources for both host communities and IDPs. OCHA reports that WASH services are critical for the thousands of IDPs who fled to the IKR, as well as for IDPs in the southern governorates of An Najar and Karbala.
The USG is working through various implementing partners to help address immediate WASH needs. In the aftermath of ISIL’s initial advance in Iraq in June, USAID/OFDA provided $1 million to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to assist IDPs in the IKR through WASH interventions, such as the provision of safe drinking water and hygiene supplies.
HUMANITARIAN COORDINATION AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
In July, USAID/OFDA provided $250,000 to OCHA for humanitarian coordination activities across Iraq, including the establishment of the Iraqi Emergency Humanitarian Operations Center at the U.N. compound in Erbil. OCHA and other humanitarian actors opened the center in early July in response to the significant increase in displacement and humanitarian need in 2014. The center aims to provide operational support to emergency response activities, collect information on emerging humanitarian needs, mobilize the rapid deployment of humanitarian interventions, and track the delivery of humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected areas countrywide.
USAID/OFDA also recently committed more than $250,000 to an NGO partner to help strengthen information management capacity within the humanitarian community in Iraq. With USAID/OFDA funding, the partner will assess and map displacement patterns in and near the KRI, provide infrastructure maps and other reference materials on IDP camps and collective sites, and track IDPs in host communities to facilitate the provision of assistance to the most vulnerable.
OTHER HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
With more than $23 million in prior fiscal year funding, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (State/PM/WRA) is supporting ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) for Iraqis across the country. Multiple partners supported by State/PM/WRA are working to clear ERW from targeted areas, and one partner is also offering mine risk education to IDPs in northern Iraq to raise awareness on how to avoid the ERW hazards.
On July 1, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) announced a contribution of $500 million to support life-saving activities for IDPs and other conflict-affected people in Iraq through U.N. agencies and other international organizations, including WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM, and the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO). The funds are expected to support efforts to distribute food, safe drinking water, and shelter supplies to IDPs; restore damaged water facilities; and establish camps, mobile health clinics, and schools.
In an August 8 press statement, the United Kingdom announced a £8 million—$13.4 million—package of emergency humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected populations in Iraq. As part of the package, the U.K. commenced airdrops of aid for IDPs on Sinjar Mountain on August 9. According to international media reports, on the first night, the U.K. military delivered approximately 1,200 reusable water containers filled with safe drinking water and 240 solar lanterns that can be used to recharge mobile phones.
Last updated: August 25, 2014