UNHCR provides winter aid to Iraqi and Syrian refugees, needs $60 million more for Mosul response

A truckload of Iraqi IDP's from various areas near Tikrit and Hawija arrive at Debaga camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Having walked for many hours through ISIS controlled areas, they were eventually picked up by Kurdish forces near the Debaga checkpoint. Some people spoke of being robbed and beaten by the militants when they were caught. Many said they had fled because of airstrikes that had increased in recent days as the Iraqi army prepares to retake the area. ; After a year of heavy fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS throughout the country, the current IDP situation has never been more grave. Now as the decisive battle for Mosul is underway many aid groups fear up to 1.2 more people could be displaced from their homes.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has this week begun distributing essential winter items to 1.2 million displaced Iraqis, including families recently displaced due to the current Mosul offensive, and to communities across Iraq that are hosting them. A total of 178,000 Syrian refugees will also benefit. The distributions come even though UNHCR’s winter assistance programme, budgeted at $120 million, is just half-funded with a $60 million funding gap.

Distributions are underway in camps and host communities and will continue until February. UNHCR is providing winter kits comprising six blankets, a heating stove, plastic tarpaulin, kerosene jerry can and a jerry can for water as well as insulation kits to make tents warmer inside. Cash assistance and kerosene are also being provided.

“Winter assistance is vital to ensure that displaced Iraqis and refugees can protect themselves against the cold, and it will be critical for Iraqis displaced from Mosul in the winter months,” said UNHCR’s Iraq Representative Bruno Geddo.

Over 20,000 people have been displaced since the start of the military offensive to retake Mosul. Currently UNHCR has five camps ready to receive people displaced from Mosul and surrounding towns and villages. Hasansham camp in Erbil Governorate is already hosting over 2,000 people while Zelikan camp in Dohuk is now home to 2,325 people. Debaga camp, also in Erbil governorate, continues to receive 10-15 new families a day and additional land is required for tents to accommodate new arrivals.

Right now, UNHCR has 27,000 tents ready in Iraq that can shelter 162,000 people. This figure will rise to 40,000 tents (240,000 people) by end November and 50,000 tents (300,000 people) by mid-December. UNHCR also plans to supply 50,000 Emergency Shelter Kits (ESKs) which will provide additional shelter solutions.

UNHCR’s Mosul emergency response remains less than half funded with $95 million received out of a total ask of $196.2 million. Of this, $60 million is specifically required to provide urgent winter assistance to families who may be displaced from Mosul in the coming days.


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