Iraq: Large numbers of refugees indicate imminent attack
“Our colleagues have observed increased refugee movement in the Mosul area. This indicates an imminent offensive to free the city of Mosul.” says Sid Peruvemba, Programme Director of Malteser International. In order to help people, Malteser International is increasing medical emergency relief for refugees in Makhmur.
Since the Iraqi government began an offensive against ISIS to free the occupied city of Mosul and some of the surrounding villages have already been retaken, around 35,000 more people from this area have arrived in the independent region Kurdistan.
“Many of the internally displaced persons from ISIS-occupied areas have not been able to visit a doctor in years. Drinking water is contaminated, children have not been vaccinated and the hygiene conditions are disastrous. Above all, they lack clean drinking water and basic medical care.” says Lisa Hilleke, who works for Malteser International in Erbil in the independent region Kurdistan in north Iraq. The old camp and the newly constructed additional accommodation for refugees in Dibage in the Makhmur region are severely overcrowded. “At one station around 10,000 people are sharing a space that was originally intended for 6,000 people. The situation is extremely difficult, even now, before the actual military offensive to liberate the city of Mosul has even begun.” says Hilleke. The Makhmur region, around 70 km from Erbil, is a first port of call for refugees from the Mosul region.
In order to improve the health of the refugees, Malteser International will first send a mobile clinic to the Makhmur area. Medical personnel will tend to acute, chronic, and in some cases long untreated, diseases and educate the public about contagious diseases.
If the offensive mounted by the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and the international coalition should be successful, the Kurdish government is estimating that up to 500,000 more refugees will flee to the north of Iraq in a short space of time. This is why Malteser International is planning to further deploy two mobile teams and ambulances in order to take on the first aid of refugees at the border to Kurdistan.
In Iraq, approximately 3.4 million people have now fled from their homes. More than half of them are living as refugees in the independent region Kurdistan. Here, the population has almost doubled in the last two years. The healthcare system in particular is completely overburdened.
Together with partners, Malteser International has been providing relief for refugees in camps in the regions of Erbil and Dohuk since August 2014.
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