More than a million people in northern Iraq are fleeing the violence of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia. The refugees lack shelter, food, drinking water and health care. Caritas has been active in this region for many years and is providing emergency relief totalling one million Swiss francs.The Islamist terror group Islamic State (IS), which until the end of June 2014 called itself ISIS, advanced into northern Iraq in August 2014. Hundreds of thousands of people, predominantly Christians, Yazidis and Shias, have fled from the area around the towns of Alqosh, Bartella and Qaraqosh. According to estimates given by UN-OCHA, approximately 1.45 million people have been displaced around the country, including 220,000 Syrians who have sought refuge in Iraq since 2012.
Caritas Iraq operates 10 centres in the country: six in Baghdad and four in the northern towns of Kirkuk, Bartella, Alqosh and Qaraqosh. In the northern towns, Caritas provided relief to Iraqi refugees from Mosul and other regions until the area was overrun by the IS militants on 7 August. Caritas staff, volunteers and refugees then fled to Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah. There, support for the refugees was immediately resumed.
Caritas Switzerland’s emergency relief
Support from Caritas Iraq: Caritas Switzerland supports Caritas Iraq’s emergency relief work: 4,600 families are provided with food, blankets, mattresses, hygiene products and household equipment.
Drop-in centres: In Sulaymaniyah, Caritas Switzerland and two partner organisations have for many years operated two drop-in centres (see video), which now cater for Syrian and Iraqi refugee children and their psychosocial needs. In addition, the children are given schooling. Children who fled without their parents receive special attention. They are looked after, given shelter and support in searching for their family.
Project with Un Ponte Per: In cooperation with the partner organisation Un Ponte Per, a new project in the provinces of Nineveh and Erbil enables Syrian refugee children and internally displaced children to get access to school. The children from the poorest families are given school materials. Specially trained school staff and a coordinated support programme give the children stability and a safe place. In total, 4,850 children benefit from this project. Furthermore, emergency supplies are distributed to the families.
Caritas Switzerland has worked for many years with Caritas Iraq and other NGOs in the region. The goal is to protect the rights of children, women and minorities.