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Winter looms in Iraq

Winter in Iraq

As winter approaches, the humanitarian community struggles to meet the growing needs of those displaced by violence in northern Iraq


Erbil, 27 November 2014

Since January 2014, more than 2.1 million people have been displaced across Iraq. More than 900,000 have taken refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Many of the IDPs are exposed to the elements - living in precarious conditions in open spaces, camps, unfinished buildings and schools. The temperatures, scorching in summer, have fallen sharply, and the first snow can be expected in the mountains anytime now. In many areas of the country the displaced population has already been hit by rain and low temperatures. The winter grows harsher by the day.

Action Against Hunger, in collaboration with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has mobilised resources and is responding to the urgent need of winter clothing for the IDP population in Garmawa camp. We will be distributing 3,100 winter kits comprising jackets, scarves, boots, underwear, dresses, caps and raincoats, for men and women, in the Garmawa camp.

“Once the census of the beneficiaries and the identification of needs was carried out, the main challenge was to choose the right suppliers in order to get quality clothes to face the winter in a camp,” said Vanessa Rubio, programme manager for Action Against Hunger in Dohuk.

“The other major issue was the delivery. It is mandatory that suppliers are able to deliver the required quantities on time, before winter strikes.”

Winter kit distribution is just a part of Action Against Hunger’s ongoing programmes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where nearly 200 staff work in the field daily to support the displaced Iraqis and the Syrian refugees.

However, despite these efforts and similar activities by other partners, the current response is hugely insufficient. If the winterisation response is not scaled up immediately, we will see both short and long term impacts on the IDP population, including negative coping mechanisms being employed, increase in debt and depletion of limited assets and resources. This will certainly increase the psychological strain on the population and compound the stress and trauma they are already suffering.

The question we face is whether the humanitarian community is prepared to meet the daunting winter needs of the IDPs? According to UNOCHA there is a massive funding gap of about USD 173 million to meet the winterisation needs of the IDP population.