Iraq has been embroiled in conflict and violence for 14 years, most recently in the fight against the Islamic State.
Right now, over 3 million people are internally displaced within the country, many of whom have experienced great loss – family and friends killed, homes destroyed, left without livelihoods, educational opportunities, or access to medical care and other basic services. As the military operations continue, many more are expected to be displaced.
Exacerbating an already intense humanitarian situation, a major 7.3 earthquake rocked the city of Halabja in November. Approximately half of the homes in Kani Bardina village were severely damaged or destroyed as a result.
Now, temporary shelters are being set up as residents brace for a cold winter. Those injured in the quake, as well as Iraqis suffering from chronic diseases, are in desperate need of medical assistance and access to basic essentials.
After escaping the military offensive to retake Mosul, Nazeeh was separated from all of his friends – including everyone on his soccer team. “We love football and used to play as a team before ISIL took over,” Nazeeh said.
Nazeeh and his family were placed in Haj Ali, an emergency site, home to an estimated 32,000 displaced Iraqis. “People from the village tried to escape the fighting and fled in all directions. My friends went to different places with their families. The team was gone. We were scattered,” Nazeeh said.
After nearly two years of searching, Nazeeh found every member of his team from Al Muwali, all of whom had also settled in Haj Ali. Finally reunited, they were able to play in a soccer match at the new sports facility constructed by IOM.
“I lost three years of learning and the freedom to play football,” he said.
IOM constructed sports and play areas at both the Haj Ali and Qayara emergency sites. Of the total displaced population living in both sites, over half are under the age of 17. Deprived of part of their childhood, IOM is ensuring that these children have spaces where they can enjoy time with friends and celebrate their freedom.
After the game, Nazeeh, beaming with happiness, said “I love my friends and I love football. I really hope that we can continue to play together as a team, here in the camp and after we return to our village.”
Since 2003, IOM has been dedicated to servicing the needs of the 3.3 million displaced people of Iraq.
IOM’s Mobile Medical Team conducted tests and treatment, and provided medication after the major earthquake outside Halabja. Following the Mosul crisis, we provided primary health, obstetric, gynecological and emergency care. We also teach communities about good health practices and preventing communicable diseases.
IOM Camp Management staff oversaw registrations and prepared emergency kits in October when arrivals swelled the Haj Ali emergency site's population to 30,156 people (6,538 families). All displaced families at Haj Ali were provided with a tent, a core relief package and access to medical services.
IOM’s Camp Management Team also assists families living in displacement sites, outside of formal camps. We have fixed windows and doors, rewired electricity, erected partitions for privacy, and rehabilitated latrines.
Through IOM’s Community Revitalization Program (CRP), we create spaces for exchanging community policing ideas and discussing security issues, and we provide equipment and light infrastructure to communities confronted by a high influx of migrants. IOM also established four community centers in Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Ninewa to rebuild physical infrastructure and strengthen social relations that were lost in conflict.
IOM offers help to displaced persons in Iraq, who often experience hyper-vigilance, anxiety, depression, anger, memory loss, and other conditions.