Fears that thousands more will flee as the battle continues
Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s worldwide relief agency, is providing aid to what humanitarian planners fear could be the first of thousands of internally displaced people fleeing to safety from fighting near Mosul. On the 26th of March, around 2000 people arrived in the village of Makhmour, in Kurdish territory, having spent days trapped between the front lines without food or water trying to flee from the fighting. “The humanitarian situation here is nothing short of catastrophic,” said Lisa Hilleke, Malteser International’s Liaison Officer in Erbil. “For security reasons, all of the displaced people are being kept in a single building with just 19 latrines, and people are sleeping on top of each other. It is a potential breeding ground for diseases.”
After living under DAESH rule for one and a half years, many of the displaced people are already in a highly vulnerable condition. Poor hygiene, a contaminated water supply, a lack of medication and vaccinations, and severe limitations on the availability of medical treatment in the DAESH occupied zone have left them urgently in need of proper facilities and medical attention. Malteser International has provided two truckloads of hygiene materials to help improve conditions for the displaced people, and reduce the risk of illness breaking out. Following coordination with local aid organizations and UN bodies, a mobile clinic run by Malteser International in cooperation with local partner organization TCCF is coming to provide medical care once per week. “However, we urgently need to find a permanent solution,” stressed Hilleke.
Meanwhile, preparations are being made in response to the fear that the displaced people who arrived in Makhmour last week are just the first of many thousands more. “We are monitoring developments in close contact with our local and international partners, and preparing ourselves to provide further aid,” said Hilleke. “Providing medical services will be our top priority.”
Malteser International has been working in Iraq since 2004, undertaking a range of projects in the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north of the country. Since August 2014, the focus has been providing medical services and emergency aid to displaced people and refugees in the area.
Malteser International is urgently calling for donations to help the affected people: