Families fleeing fighting in Nineveh receive Red Crescent assistance in Erbil

Published: 7 April 2016 15:16 CET

By Mohammed Khuzai, Iraqi Red Crescent Society

Recent fierce clashes in Iraq’s northern governorate of Nineveh have left at least 50 people dead, and led to a growing number of people fleeing the region to safer parts of the country. In the first days, more than 360 families found refuge in Al Makhmour city in Erbil province. The journey for these families was not easy, with many walking long distances to reach safety.

Saad Jassem, who recently arrived from Nineveh, said: "My family and I took the safe routes provided by Iraqi security forces to reach Al Makhmour. It was not an easy journey, especially that we fled with three children and walked for many hours."

Andul Rahman Rassoul, who also left Nineveh with his family, said: "Landmines were planted everywhere on the roads we took, putting our safety at risk."

In advance of this population movement, Iraqi Red Crescent Society had plans in place to respond to the expected wave of displacement, including how to manage large numbers of families coming in to Erbil. Shelter was arranged in schools and other public places dedicated for this purpose, and Red Crescent volunteers provided relief items and health services to those in need.

The 360 families that arrived in Al Makhmour in the initial days were provided with relief and other support by the Red Crescent. The number of families assisted has steadily increased over recent days, now reaching over 600 families. The organization continues to be on alert, gearing up its teams and resources to meet the needs of the displaced.

Mr Hawari Ihsan, the head of operations at the Iraqi Red Crescent Society branch in Erbil said: “The organization’s teams provided shelter to internally displaced people and provide them with food parcels. A number of meals were also prepared in sheltering centres.”

The ongoing unrest in Iraq has led to a nationwide humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 3.3 million internally displaced people and at least 200,000 Syrian refugees in the country. These vulnerable people primarily rely on relief aid to cover their basic needs. The Red Crescent  is at the forefront of humanitarian operations across the country, providing vital relief aid, shelter, health, psychosocial and development services in communities. The Red Crescent has also been caring for Iraqi refugees living in neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.