Iraq: Humanitarian funding shortfall could put lives at risk, says aid organization CARE

6.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across Iraq / CARE urges donors to adequately fund the response

Dohuk/Berlin, 31. July 2019. A further decrease in funding of humanitarian activities in Northern Iraq could put countless people’s lives at risk, warns the international aid organization CARE. Early August marks a sad anniversary: 5 years ago, in 2014, hundreds of thousands of people fled the Sinjar region after horrific attacks and persecution bringing the world’s attention to a region which was until then unknown to most people.

Today, 6.7 million people across Iraq are still in need of humanitarian assistance. About 1.8 million people alone are displaced in Northern Iraq, more than 200,000 from Sinjar. CARE urges international donors to continue to adequately finance the humanitarian response in Northern Iraq, as long as it is needed. Further, more efforts have to be undertaken to find durable solutions for those who cannot or do not want to return to the villages where they experienced horrific human rights violations.  

“Humanitarian funding has been decreasing for years, but we are reaching a tipping point by donors pulling money out of camps. With the international attention going to other places in the country like Mosul, also the money went”, reports Wendy Barron, Country Director for CARE International in Iraq. “While it is very important to provide humanitarian assistance to everyone who needs it, we cannot afford to put people’s lives at risk by cutting off basic services like the provision of drinking water, hygiene services and medical support. We carry responsibility for those people who have lived in camps for far too long already.” According to the United Nations, so far only approximately 41 percent of the necessary humanitarian funds for 2019 have been secured while the camps in Northern Iraq count new arrivals almost every day.

With unpredictable volatile dynamics throughout the country, returning to their places of origin is simply not an option for most of the displaced across Northern Iraq. Displaced people are living in camps as well as with host communities, and both depend on aid provided by humanitarian agencies. For those outside the camps the situation is also very challenging. After five years of displacement, many of the families run out of money and can’t afford their life anymore. As a result, they show up at the gates of the camps.

“We are especially concerned about Yazidi families, many of them are still heavily traumatized and simply do not dare to return home to what they feel is burned soil”, adds Barron. “As long as the security situation in Sinjar is how it is and as long basic services like markets, schools and hospitals are not up and running, it is our responsibility to continue to protect them, to provide basic services and to ensure returns are only undertaken voluntarily, in dignity and safety.”

Despite major funding challenges, CARE and its local partners continue to provide humanitarian assistance in camps as well as in host communities across multiple governorates. Toilets, showers and washing facilities are kept clean, septic tanks are serviced and garbage collections organized. CARE also rehabilitates public health centers, trains medical staff and hygiene promoters as well as provides medical supplies and nutritional supplements to pregnant and lactating women and their babies. As of June 2019, CARE’s support has reached more than 340,000 people.