Ashti Camp for Iraqi IDPs Now Open

“Once again I’m proud of our team! We’re up and running in the new area of the Ashti camp for Iraqi IDPs in Iraq, and our guard was the first IDP to sleep in this new area. Around 100 families arrive here from the Arbat camp every day, and at last they’ll have a clean, dignified tent spot. The Arbat camp was overcrowded and really muddy. It was never planned; it was just an area ‘occupied’ by the huge numbers of refugees that headed there from Ninewa after Mosul was conquered by the Islamic State. Since 2014, tens of thousands of people have been seeking shelter from the continuous fighting in Syria and Iraq, searching for a safe place. EMERGENCY began offering free medical care straight away and started building five Health Centers in the Kurdistan area.

When we were told about the intention to extend the Ashti camp, we set to work at once. The aim was to build a new clinic to guarantee good quality treatment for the 16,000 people who’d be living there. To ensure the necessary care right from the start, we set up our mobile clinic and arranged a specific area with two tents that will act as a clinic for the next three months, until the new Clinic is ready.  The tents are fitted out with an area where patients can be examined, an area for the doctors, and a bathroom. There’s also air-conditioning and a shaded outdoor area for those waiting. I want to thank all our staff and all the people who support us: If we’ve managed to set up this project, the credit goes to you as well!”

— Giacomo, EMERGENCY NGO Humanitarian Response Program Manager in Iraq

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The Context for Our Health Clinics in Iraq

EMERGENCY-IRAQIn the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are searching for a safe place to be sheltered from the fighting that’s enveloped the area. In order to address the health needs of this growing population, we operate two health clinics in the Arbat IDP camp, one in the Qoratu camp, and one mobile clinic in the Salah-Aga area.

Between 1st January 2014 and 30th April 2015 in ‪‎Iraq, 14,947 civilians lost their lives and 29,189 were wounded.
In the same period, more than 2.8 million people were forced to leave their homes. Of these, 1.3 million were children (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq report).
This is what the refugees we’re treating ‪‎in northern Iraq are fleeing from. And this is the same violence fled by those we help when they land in Augusta, Sicily.

To help provide immediate healthcare free of charge to refugees in Iraq escaping the war

The Humans Behind the Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq

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Photo credit: Dario Bosio/Metrography Agency

“I’ve been working with EMERGENCY for nearly three years now, formerly as a logistician for our program in Afghanistan. Last April I came to Iraq as a Program Manager for our program addressing the humanitarian crisis in this country.

The numbers were there and I studied them before heading out: 6 million people fleeing their homes because of the war with basic needs that have to be met – water, food, shelter and health above all else. Numbers, statistics, charts – all useful information, but they still left room in my head for curiosity and a touch of fear. The project was very clear: two health clinics – plus one under construction – in Arbat and two in Kalar. All of them in camps for refugees or displaced persons. But, as I said, these were just numbers.

When I arrived in Arbat at the IDP camp (internally displaced Iraqis), the situation became clear straight away: a camp made up of tents housing over 3,000 families (more than 18,000 people), poor conditions for hygiene and health, resignation and anger in the eyes of many. Our clinic inside the camp was inundated with people looking for someone who could take care of them and their relatives. I went around the camp, amongst the tents, the children playing in the puddles, and the adults trying to give their spaces some semblance of a home. They weren’t just numbers any more. They were real people.

This is what EMERGENCY does: it takes care of people, offering free, high quality healthcare. Our clinics in the camps look after people who’ve lost their homes as a result of the war and have travelled long distances, finding themselves at the end of their journey in a tent and having to restart their lives all over again from scratch.

The people involved in this crisis currently number 8.2 million. 90% of them are living outside the camps. Since January, we’ve examined almost 40,000 people in our clinics. More than a third of them were children. And day by day the conflict increases the number of families escaping from their homes in search of a better future.

Every day there are new arrivals needing help. And every day we do just that: we offer free, high quality care.

It’s not a slogan, and these aren’t numbers. It’s reality, and these are real people.”

– Giacomo
EMERGENCY Humanitarian Response Program Manager in Iraq

World Refugee Day and Our New Health Promotion Program in the Qoratu Camp

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Photo: Dario Bosio/Metrography

Today is World Refugee Day, a day to draw attention to the state of refugees all over the world.

In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have come in search of a safe place to be sheltered from the fighting that’s enveloped the area. They’re escaping the war in Syria or the advance of ISIS in Iraq, leaving behind their homes and facing journeys that are often hard and dangerous.

In order to address the health needs of this growing population, we operate two health clinics in the Arbat camp, a mobile clinic, and a health clinic in the Qoratu camp. Marina, EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator in Iraq, updates us on the Qoratu camp:

“The refugee camp in Qoratu is gradually turning into a little town with 2,500 inhabitants. Everyone knows each other now. Each family has tried to recreate some semblance of their old home in and around their tent. The women make bread, the children play, some men set up a businesses, opening small food stores or repair shops…

Meanwhile, our work continues in the clinic that we’ve opened inside the camp and out in the surrounding areas with our mobile clinic. At the moment we’re selecting the volunteers who’ll be helping us with the Health Promotion program we aim to launch in the camp. After being trained by us, they’ll visit each tent in a health information campaign to promote healthy practices and give advice about hygiene and health. The first campaign will begin next week, dealing with problems linked with dehydration and diarrhea. A lot of people showed up for an interview. Naser, Kalid, Shabri … There’s the chemistry professor, the mechanical engineer, the factory worker, the student… Each one of them has a story, a life that has had to be abandoned. They ask for nothing, only to be able to begin again and, if possible, to lend a hand. That’s why they want to be volunteers with EMERGENCY and help others in the camp.

During the interview they tell their stories with sincerity and dignity. Many stories, each one different from the others but all bearing a terrible mark: the mark of war.”

– Marina
EMERGENCY Medical Coordinator
Kalar, Iraq

To help deliver free-of-charge healthcare to refugees forced from their homes and livelihoods in Iraqi-Kurdistan

Our Qoratu Health Clinic Takes in Patients Fleeing Expanding Conflict in Iraq

EMERGENCY-IRAQ-QORATUMay 25 – Iraq

Hundreds of families are fleeing from Ramadi, which has been under attack by ISIS forces for the past few days. To escape the reach of war, many are heading north where there is a growing population of internally displaced persons (IDPs). When the staff at our health clinic in the Qoratu IDP camp in Iraqi-Kurdistan received news last Thursday that the first families would be arriving the next day, they rushed to get everything ready. Friday is the day of rest for Muslims, so our clinic usually works with a reduced number of personnel, but in this special circumstance we brought in more staff to help.

The first IDPs arrived in trucks that were loaded with all their belongings. There were around 40 families – more than 200 people. “Lots more are held up at the checkpoints,” they told us, “waiting to get through and continue their journey towards a safer place.” Government sources say the number of people held up is in the thousands.

Most of the arriving IDPs are women and children. As soon as they get here, they search for an area in the shade where they can sit down and rest in order to escape the scorching sun that often raises temperatures to 40° C. They’re completely worn out and have a vacant look in their eyes as if they expected nothing more to happen for them.

We give them all a rehydrating solution and invite them to be examined by our staff at the health clinic. One of our doctors will be on hand for them whenever they need help.

While we’re telling them all this, a faint smile appears on a woman’s face and she thanks us on behalf of everyone.

To help provide immediate healthcare free of charge to refugees in Iraq escaping the war