As the security situation has stabilized in villages near war-torn Mosul, where Iraqi military operations are under way to wrest the city from terrorists, the United Nations refugee agency and its partners are racing against time to distributing winter kits to those who remained or returned home and those newly-displaced as plunging temperatures hit the area.
“The situation is very precarious for Iraqis affected by the ongoing military confrontations and they urgently need humanitarian assistance,” Hovig Etyemezian, Senior Field Co-ordinator of the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a news release.
The UN refugee agency, together with partner Muslim Aid, has distributed more than 8,200 winter kits in Gogachly and Nimrud, which are located east and south of Mosul.
These essential kits, each containing two blankets and two quilts, will not only be delivered to families in other areas in the coming days, but they are also being disseminated to camps hosting displaced Iraqis.
“Newly displaced Iraqis, those who never left their villages and other families who have only just returned to their homes, often lack the resources to survive – especially during the harsh winter, said Mr. Etyemezian, adding that “our help is giving them extra support to cope with the most difficult time of the year.”
However, the agency warned of a large funding gap for its winter assistance programme, as the $196.2 million Mosul emergency response is only 57 per cent funded.
More than 76,000 people have been displaced since the start of the military offensive to retake Mosul. UNHCR currently has six camps ready to receive people displaced from the city and surrounding towns and villages. The agency hopes to provide winter assistance to 1.2 million newly-displaced Iraqis.