Iraq: The heavy humanitarian toll in the aftermath of Mosul
After 9 months of fighting, the final stage of the Mosul offensive does not mean an end to the ordeal of the thousands of civilians still trapped in the city. No more than it puts a stop to the exodus of populations from Iraq. The coming military operations by the Iraqi and international forces against other bastions of the Islamic State group risk causing large-scale displacement in the areas where Terre des hommes intervenes, like at the Tal Jarabia camp. Our colleague Stephan Richard, currently in Iraq, reviews the situation.
Families are still fleeing
The recapturing of Iraq’s second city by the United States-led coalition is having an effect in the North-West of the country, where Terre des hommes leads emergency aid projects for the internally displaced. “Beyond the hope that it gives to inhabitants of the areas controlled by the Islamic State group (ISIS), the liberation of Mosul is paradoxically having a negative impact on the population in the areas where we intervene,” observes Stephan Richard, a specialist in humanitarian interventions and emergencies. “The movements of the fighters fleeing Mosul and trying to reach one of the last pockets of resistance, in Tal Afar, is driving out populations who were previously spared from the fighting.”
70 kilometres from Mosul, the city of Tal Afar is located next to the Tal Jarabia camp for displaced people, where Terre des hommes has been working for over 6 months. “The coming military operations, designed to liberate the last pockets of resistance in the centre (Hawija) and the North-West (Tal Afar), will probably cause large-scale population displacement to the areas where Terre des hommes has already been intervening to provide emergency aid for over a year, in Qayarrah, Sherqat, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Tal Jarabia,” adds Stephan Richard.
Scaling up the emergency aid at the Tal Jarabia camp
Today, the informal settlement of Tal Jarabia shelters about 1650 displaced. Most of them have spent hours on trucks in temperatures exceeding 45 degrees to seek safety. Even if the camp offers a respite for the families, there is limited access to water, food, health and protection, putting children’s health at risk. “This situation pushes many families to continue towards camps in the east,” says Francis Hughes, Tdh Country Emergency Programme Coordinator. Families remaining in Tal Jarabia usually have their livestock with them, their only source of income. Yet, there is no food and water for their animals, which are being left to die as a result.
Tdh is working around the clock with other NGOs to provide displaced children and their families with water, sanitation facilities, emergency kits, as well as hygiene and kitchen kits, even in challenging weather conditions. “To avoid the heat and the storms, our trucks now leave from Qayyarrah at 1am to be in Tal Jarabia for distributing emergency aid early in the morning,” explains Francis. In cooperation with other NGOs, Tdh is also going to set up a mobile unit connected to two existing bore holes in the settlement. This will allow us to provide families with safe drinking water while avoiding daily water trucking.
We have been scaling up our emergency response with providing daily humanitarian aid. We deliver 120 litres of water on daily basis to each family in the settlement and we will ensure that the most acute needs of children and their families are met and that they are protected in the coming months, too.
Immerse yourself in the daily life of children fleeing the so-called Islamic State here.
Photo credit: © Tdh