The humanitarian crises in Iraq started in June 2014 when the militant group Islamic State (ISIS) expanded their activities from Syria to Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, which is mainly inhabited by Sunni Muslims. They began driving out non-Islamic minorities, the two largest being Christians and Yazidis. Initially, the Christians fled to the Nineveh plain. However, ISIS’ second attack in August forced them to flee further north to the Kurdistan region. The insurgents continued expanding their territory to Sinjar Mountain, chasing away the Yazedi community, another ethnic group with their own faith. These two groups took shelter in Kurdistan, causing the United Nations to classified the crisis at its highest level.
The UN issued appeals to support people needing urgent humanitarian assistance. Among the many international agencies, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), member of ACT Alliance, started responding in August 2014 in the Duhok Governorate, which hosts the largest population of internally displaced people in the Kurdish region.
Since the start of the crisis, the UN and other agencies have been responding to people's needs. The Kurdistan regional government says 850,000 IDPs are in Kurdistan, of which half a million live in Duhok. One third of people in Duhok are IDPs. The live in organized camps, abandoned and unfinished houses, and community buildings such as churches and community centres. The government has set up 14 camps accommodating about 150,000 people. Efforts are being made to bring a large proportion of the IDPs to the organized camps.
From the outset, the government set up a mechanism so that humanitarian actors could work in a coordinated fashion. The LWF, with partner CAPNI, attends sector-related UN meetings. LWF programs are implemented in line with cluster decisions.
Since the start of the offensive to re-take Mosul in October 2016, LWF is also assisting people who fled the fighting in and around Mosul and took shelter in surrounding refugee camps.
The LWF is working with local partners to support internally displaced people in Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdish region with:
Winter and summer clothing, kitchen sets, bedding, hygiene kits and wheelchairs
Shelter kits and shelter rehabilitation
Water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion
The rehabilitation of schools
assistance to people living with disabilities
In the medium-term, the LWF will assist by providing life-saving goods, including more summer items for families to cope with hot Iraqi summer and will put in place a water, sanitation and hygiene package in one of the camps for internally displaced people, a sector the government encourages support with. Improved accommodation for IDPs living in church compounds will also be included.
Longer-term assistance will include the distribution of relief items to enable people to live dignified lives, and to initiate programs that support income generation. Food distribution is not an option for a longer term and more education and community-based psychosocial programs for both adults and children are planned.
The LWF has been working with local partners since August 2014:
CAPNI (Christian Aid Program – Nohadra Iraq)
JIYAN Foundation (Kirkuk Centre for Torture Victims)
These activities have been undertaken in close coordination with the UN, government and ACT Alliance members. Assistance has been provided to the IDPs living in Zakho, Semele, Amadia and Duhok city.