Since 2013, the conflict in the north of Syria has caused a large-scale population displacement towards the neighbouring Kurdistan region. 241,000 Syrians have sought refuge in this region, 42% of whom are in the governorate of Dohuk alone (MSF figures). Across the rest of the country, hundreds of thousands of people have fled from the provinces of Anbar and Ninewa in order to escape from Daesh, and have regrouped in the independent Kurdistan region, in Baghdad and in the southern provinces. As a result, the country currently has a total of 1.5 million displaced people, 1.4 million of whom are categorised as Internally Displaced Persons according to the UNHCR (figures from December 2015). This population movement, mainly caused by the growth of Daesh, is worsening the economic crisis and exacerbating religious tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, with the latter being in power. In these conditions, the governments – of both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region – and the host populations have huge difficulty in providing for the basic needs of the displaced and refugee populations.
Description of the mission
Première Urgence Internationale has had a presence in Iraq since 1997: the first work was aimed at helping a population under pressure from the international embargo. Following the launch of its multi-sector programme “My Village, My Home” in 2009, Première Urgence Internationale has worked to improve access to drinking water, sanitation and to restore livelihoods.
In 2013 the organisation opened an office in Kurdistan in order to respond to the needs created by the Syrian crisis. Since August 2014 our teams have extended their activities to include two camps for displaced Iraqis, as well as supporting the displaced communities and refugees who are living outside these camps.
In the south, Première Urgence Internationale has widened the scope of its operation by supporting people who are displaced or returning to Baghdad and between Karbala and Najaf, by improving the living conditions of households, access to healthcare and employment possibilities.
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
The objective of Première Urgence Internationale in Iraq is to provide a humanitarian response to the needs caused by population movements – this includes displaced families, refugees and returning populations who had moved to Kurdistan as well as to the central region of Iraq, and also the host populations when the pressure on available resources has become unsustainable. Taking into account the scale of the crisis and the requirements observed, the work in Iraq has focused on multi-sector activities; as far as possible, an integrated approach is developed while still maintaining health as the as the central point of our activities. In 2015-2016, Première Urgence Internationale continues to provide primary health care in its three aid camps and in urban areas with a high concentration of displaced persons and refugees. In addition to this, where there is a need and where other humanitarian organisations are not present, the mission will extend or develop WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) activities, will focus on offering psycho-social support and will work for a longer-term solution by aiming to make the affected populations more autonomous through strengthening their livelihoods. Finally, Première Urgence Internationale maintains its ability to respond rapidly to emergencies and to significant population movements, largely due to its mobile clinics and reserve stocks.