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August 19, 2014
Numbers At A Glance
Escalating insecurity in northern Iraq triggers massive population displacement, causing as many as 200,000 people to flee to Dohuk Governorate in early August.
United States conducts humanitarian assessment of the situation on Sinjar Mountain and completes airdrops to populations in need.
U.N. declares a Level 3 emergency for Iraq crisis.
Since clashes intensified between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), its allied militias, the Government of Iraq (GoI), and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) security forces throughout northern and central Iraq, IDP population movements have remained fluid. Displacement figures continue to fluctuate as insecurity, particularly in Al Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din governorates, has resulted in secondary and tertiary displacements.
During the week of August 11, the U.N. declared the Iraq crisis a Level 3 (L3) emergency—the most severe designation on its internal scale. Following the declaration, U.N. agencies have begun preparing a strategic statement—an L3 requirement intended to establish response priorities and facilitate coordination.
On August 13, the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) leader—along with DoD personnel—completed a rapid humanitarian assessment of IDPs residing on Ninewa Governorate’s Sinjar Mountain. The team found that dwindling numbers of people remained on the mountain, following the Kurdish-assisted evacuation of thousands of civilians from Sinjar Mountain between August 4 and 13.
Between August 8 and 14, DoD conducted seven airdrops of emergency supplies to thousands of displaced persons trapped on Sinjar Mountain. In total, the USG delivered more than 128,000 ready-to-eat meals and nearly 134,000 liters of safe drinking water—supplies that many IDPs carried onward as they departed.
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS AND POPULATION DISPLACEMENT
Conflict in northern and central Iraq continues to prompt population displacement while simultaneously hindering people’s movements in areas isolated by insecurity. Ongoing fighting and the consequent lack of negotiated access over the past several weeks have thwarted efforts by U.N. and GoI agencies to assess conditions and provide humanitarian aid to besieged towns in ISIL-held areas. Agencies report adequate access in Kurdish-held areas, which have received a large influx of displaced individuals in recent weeks.
Due to ongoing violence and repeated displacement, precise numbers of displaced persons are unknown. Among locations hosting IDP families, the U.N. reports that the town of Zakho in Dohuk hosts between 90,000 and 100,000 IDPs, many of whom are residing in 16 schools used as emergency shelters. IDPs are also taking shelter in mosques, churches, and abandoned buildings. According to OCHA, local government authorities recently reported that up to 462,270 IDPs are sheltering in Dohuk Governorate.
At least 55,000 Yezidi Iraqis fleeing Sinjar have recently arrived in Syria, according to UNHCR. While most have since returned to Iraq, an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 individuals are reportedly staying in the Newroz camp near Al Qamishli, Al Hasakah Governorate, managed by local relief organizations. Other refugees are scattered among various Yezidi villages in Al Qahtaniyah or in urban areas.
As of August 17, IOM had provided transportation assistance to approximately 16,550 displaced Iraqis from the Fishkhabour border crossing on the Iraq–Syria border to locations within Dohuk. Many of the IDPs reached Fishkhabour after initially departing from Sinjar, including the Sinjar Mountain area, and traveling through Syria. In coordination with the Kurdish authorities, IOM is offering transportation assistance from the Fishkhabour and Sahela border crossings from Syria to various destinations in Dohuk Governorate, including camps being prepared to receive the new IDPs.
In an August 17 flash update, OCHA reported concerns of deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Amirli, a small town located in Salah ad-Din Governorate’s Tooz District. Local sources describe a deteriorating humanitarian situation, with food shortages and limited water availability due to the lack of power and fuel.
Due to fears of ISIL-related insecurity, populations who had previously fled to several camps in northern Iraq’s Dohuk, Erbil, and Ninewa governorates fled again during the week of August 4, the U.N. reports. In addition, thousands of IDPs seeking refuge in schools and a majority of the 200,000 IDPs from Sinjar and other areas of Ninewa require urgent shelter support.
Relief organizations, including UNHCR and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), continue to distribute supplies and assist officials to establish IDP shelter sites in Dohuk, according to the U.N. UNHCR aims to erect approximately 1,000 tents in Dohuk, in addition to 400 family tents and 160 communal tents already constructed as of August 13. UNHCR has also distributed at least 3,200 emergency supply kits since August 4.
The Government of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) has announced plans to build a tent camp in Zakho to host approximately 16,000 Yezidi IDPs fleeing ISIL insecurity. The plan for the camp has reportedly been drafted. AFAD also plans to send four trucks of humanitarian goods to Zakho and surrounding areas to meet IDP needs.
As additional populations flee to southern Iraq, IOM and UNHCR are working with the GoI to establish an IDP camp in Maysan Governorate. The camp site has a capacity for 1,000 tents, with possible expansion to accommodate additional households. IOM reports that more than 630 families have arrived in Maysan since mid-July—more than half of whom arrived between August 7 and 10. Governorate officials are providing families with temporary accommodation while the camp is under construction. Humanitarian organizations and GoI agencies are establishing infrastructure and services for the IDPs.
USAID/OFDA is providing more than $1 million to an implementing partner for relief activities, including the distribution of shelter upgrade materials to improve shelter conditions for vulnerable IDPs from northern Iraq. On August 14, UNHCR announced plans to scale up assistance to newly arrived Iraqis seeking refuge at Newroz camp in northeastern Syria’s Al Hasakah Governorate. UNHCR has already delivered tents, plastic sheeting, blankets, hygiene kits, and other household items from stockpiles within the governorate and is planning to airlift 2,000 tents and 5,000 mattresses to the camp.
OCHA reports that the daily arrival rate of Iraqi refugees in Syria averaged 6,000 to 7,000 people between August 7 and August 13. For the arrivals who continue back into Iraq, their journeys can take from several hours to up to three days, according to UNHCR.
While IDPs throughout northern Iraq require a range of humanitarian assistance, particularly IDPs still in transit, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and its partners are reaching IDPs with a broad range of emergency, short-term food assistance. In the medium to long-term, humanitarian organizations are monitoring the potential impact of insecurity and displacement on agricultural production. Challenges to humanitarian access have also limited the capacity of public distribution systems, according to OCHA.
Since the fall of Ninewa’s city of Mosul in early June, WFP has provided emergency food assistance to more than 524,000 IDPs in 10 governorates, reaching a significant proportion of the total displaced population. WFP and its partners have established eight field kitchens, the majority in Dohuk, which have served hot meals to more than 173,000 people.
For households that have access to cooking facilities, WFP is providing monthly food rations that comprise rice, lentils, wheat flour, oil, canned vegetables, and other food items—essential staples that households can use for meal preparation. Since June, WFP has distributed sufficient monthly rations to benefit approximately 268,000 people.
In July, WFP began providing emergency food rations designed to meet the needs of IDPs in transit. Since the launch, WFP has provided more than 83,000 people with three-day ready-to-eat emergency rations, including via a newly established distribution point in Zakho.
For its emergency operation benefiting Iraqi IDPs, WFP continues to utilize meal replacement bars provided by USAID in early August. The bars contain a complete daily ration of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates and are fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals.
WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE
Humanitarian actors have expressed concern that displaced populations sheltering in open areas, unfinished buildings, schools, and other temporary accommodations in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and An Najaf Governorate are in urgent need of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance.
Following early August violence in Ninewa, WASH remains a priority concern as new arrivals strain already limited water resources for both host communities and IDPs. OCHA reports that Dohuk authorities requested safe drinking water and sanitation supplies for approximately 200,000 conflict-affected persons who sought refuge in Bajid Kandala transit camp and the towns of Khanikah, Sharya, and Zakho during the week of August 11.
The USG is working through various implementing partners to help address immediate WASH needs. USAID/OFDA is supporting a non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance for IDPs from Ninewa, as well as shelter support. The project aims to reduce public health and protection risks for IDPs through emergency WASH interventions, such as hygiene promotion campaigns and sanitation infrastructure improvements.
HUMANITARIAN COORDINATION AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
Following the designation of the Iraq crisis as an L3 emergency, U.N. agencies and international NGOs have begun to scale up operations to direct additional funding, resources, and personnel to response efforts.
OCHA plans to produce a Humanitarian Needs Overview to inform a revised 2014 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for the growing number of conflict-affected families in Iraq. The U.N. previously released a revised 2014 SRP for Iraq on June 24, requesting approximately $312 million in support of multi-sector humanitarian assistance.
The Iraq Humanitarian Country Team recently agreed to activate the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service to facilitate the movement of emergency supplies and humanitarian staff to hard-to-reach locations.
Since June, humanitarian actors have expressed concern for the safety of women and girls in conflict-affected areas of Iraq. Women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to physical and psychosocial trauma and experience limited access to reproductive health care services in the wake of displacement and insecurity.
Further, the fluidity of population movement has prevented organizations from assessing the extent of gender-based violence and child protection issues among IDP populations, particularly those trapped in besieged areas. With the influx of IDPs living in unfinished buildings and open spaces, many face increased vulnerability.
The U.N. notes an increase in reported incidences of rape and violence toward women and children, signaling a need for increased medical and psychosocial support for affected individuals.
In response, the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and other relief organizations have distributed female hygiene kits and reproductive health kits to affected women and girls, including those displaced to Dohuk and Erbil. Other organizations are also providing psychosocial support, legal services, and medical referrals in Erbil. In June, USAID/OFDA provided $1 million to UNICEF for response efforts, including psychosocial support for children, establishing child friendly spaces, and other child protection activities, in the IKR.
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