IOM Calls for Humanitarian Corridors to Access Displaced in Iraq
Iraq - IOM is calling for humanitarian corridors to access tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis who fled fighting in the northern part of Iraq and are now dispersed in 17 of the country’s 18 governorates.
“IOM has been able to distribute relief supplied by itself, WFP and UNICEF to some 10,000 people this month, but that is a drop in the bucket when you consider the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced by the ongoing fighting in Mosul, Tal Afar, Tikrit and on the road south to Baghdad,” said IOM Baghdad Emergency Coordinator Mandie Alexander.
“We cannot accurately assess their needs or deliver aid to the vast majority because of the lack of security and hundreds of road blocks. The road blocks, established by the government and armed opposition groups (AOGs) also stop people from reaching aid distribution points. We cannot reach them and they cannot reach us,” she noted, speaking at a donor briefing at IOM headquarters in Geneva yesterday (26/6).
IOM is also calling for schools, mosques and hospitals to be made secure and declared neutral zones in order to deliver aid to displaced people seeking refuge in these and other public buildings. Many mosques have come under fire in the recent fighting and the two main hospitals in Mosul have been destroyed.
“Iraq is no longer the country that we knew and the Iraq we knew will never exist again. It is now a totally different country. We have turned back the clock to the emergencies of 2003 and 2006 and what we now have is a very complex humanitarian emergency with huge obstacles to overcome,” says Alexander.
IOM has a total of 250 international and national staff in Iraq. When security permits, IOM rapid assessment and response teams (RARTs) gather displacement data, which is then collated by the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and shared with the government and humanitarian agencies country-wide.
Data collection and communication with the RARTs is now increasingly difficult, due to an almost total shut down of telephone lines, the internet and social media.
But IOM has been able to locate and identify the needs of 240,000 displaced in 240 different locations. The DTM data shows that most recent displacement has occurred in the governorates of Ninewa, Salah Al-Din and Diyala – the largest being in Ninewa.
For families fleeing across governorate borders, the majority have sought refuge in the governorates of the Kurdish Region of Iraq, Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. Families, although in small numbers, were also identified as far south as Basra, Thi Qar, Missan, Najaf, Qadissiya and Wassit.
“The tracking of the displaced is a very difficult exercise. People are constantly on the move. The situation changes from one hour to the next and is very volatile. Displaced families are frequently subjected to multiple displacements,” says Alexander.
According to Alexander, the hardship has been compounded by the sky-rocketing price of basic commodities. Fuel is also becoming increasingly scarce, pushing up the price of transport. The banking system has also more or less ceased to function and aid agencies, including IOM, are finding in-country procurement increasingly difficult.
As part of a UN inter-agency appeal, IOM is appealing for USD 40 million to maintain its displacement tracking system, procure and distribute 5,000 tents and 60,000 non-food relief items, and deploy mobile health clinics. It is also seeking USD 7.5 million to help stranded third country nationals to return home, in response to requests for help from the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
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