Iraqi Kurdistan is in the news again, with three more refugee camps (in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniyah) prepared to receive thousands of civilians arriving from the Syrian-Turkish border. A brief ceasefire was declared in the region, many who did not leave previously are now scrambling to get out to escape the conflict. As of 26th October, the UN refugee agency is reporting that 11,292 refugees have fled the fighting in North-East Syria into Iraq.

The region already has large numbers of refugees from the ongoing conflict in Syria and internally displaced people from southern Iraq. Pressure on health services has exhausted stocks of medicines, and many people are now suffering from conditions that could be treated.

 

The need for medical supplies is urgent. We have a range of critical medicines and health supplies ready and waiting for dispatch out to health workers in the camps and surrounding area. 

We are also reaching out to source additional medicines so that we can maintain supplies and respond to the evolving needs on the ground.

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Last year, we sent more than 166,000 treatments to Iraq.

 

Pharmacist checks medicine stocksWe have been operating in Iraq since 2014, seeing at first hand how events from years ago continue to affect people today. Recently, our NGO partner in-country sent a team to a hospital in Halabja, about 240km northeast of Baghdad, which treats victims of chemical warfare. The warfare happened not recently, but as long ago as March 16, 1988. On a day known as ‘Bloody Friday’, chemical bombs resulted in the death up to 5,000 people and the injury of 7,000 more. One direct result was increased rates of cancer and birth defects, which still affect lives today. 145 boxes of medicines worth $315,000 were distributed, including many we provided, thanks to our donors’ generosity.

Two of our team at IHP visited Iraqi Kurdistan in 2017, landing in Erbil. Louise Hart was a part of that trip, she explained: “In this region, events and context shift rapidly. The question of what to do with Kurdistan’s two million refugees and internally displaced people is one that no one can yet answer. Meeting humanitarian needs while managing security concerns... constitutes a tricky balance. The result is a containment policy that keeps affected individuals in camps with no clear long-term plan.”

 

Director of Programmes, Louise Hart visited two refugee camps: “As we park, people stand around the gate, looking in – waiting for nothing in particular. That’s what strikes me most about this place. Everyone is in limbo. The individuals we see have fled terrible, frightening situations. Yes, they’ve reached a place of comparative safety, but now they’re in a holding pattern, waiting for another phase of life to begin. And until it does, they can do nothing.”

Louise concluded: “It’s hard to be positive, but thinking of those I’ve met, I want to put to good use the time and effort people have spent telling us their stories and showing us their situations. We want to raise awareness of the needs in Kurdistan and increase donations of medicines and medical supplies that are desperately needed.” To read more about Louise’s time in Iraqi Kurdistan, click here.

 

 

For every £1 donated – we estimate an additional £10 will be leveraged in donated medical supplies.

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