More than two years after the declared end of combat operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the situation in Iraq remains unstable with widespread humanitarian concerns. Approximately 1.5 million people remain internally displaced, 70% of whom are in protracted displacement as they have been displaced for more than three years.
In October 2019, protests against the recently-elected federal government erupted in Baghdad and other governorates, threatening the fledgling stability and narrowing the national focus. Moreover, the military offensive by Turkey against Kurdish forces in north-east Syria increased insecurity and uncertainty on Iraq’s western and northern borders and created an influx of Syrian refugees (21,537 individuals have arrived to the Kurdistan region of Iraq as of March 1st, 2020).
The most vulnerable people in Iraq and those in acute need of humanitarian assistance are those directly affected by the 2014-2017 conflict against ISIL, particularly those who were displaced and whose lives and livelihoods were uprooted and destroyed. Families with perceived but unproven affiliations to extremist groups are also among the most vulnerable, unwel¬come in their areas of origin and prone to isolation and discrimination.
Description of the mission
Implemented in Iraq since 1983 under Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI), and 1997 under Première Urgence (PU), Première Urgence Internationale brings help to vulnerable refugees, displaced persons as well as host communities, in order to improve their living conditions and reinforce their resilience, enabling them to regain dignity and autonomy.
Première Urgence Internationale’s objective in Iraq is to provide a humanitarian response to needs arising from movements of population through reinforcement of the existing health system and provision of mental health and psychosocial support to people in need, while providing access to shelter, drinking water, hygiene and sanitation. Given the scale of the crisis and the needs observed, Première Urgence Internationale’s teams emphasize multiple sectoral interventions and develop as much as possible an integrated approach, keeping health the core sector of its intervention.
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
In the country, Première Urgence Internationale is currently providing a wide range of health and mental health services: medical consultations, including for acute and chronic conditions, injuries, emergency and referrals, basic laboratory tests, nursing services, mental health care services, capacity building and awareness on mental health and psychosocial support.
Première Urgence Internationale is working in in-camp and out-of-camp settings. In camps: management of two primary health care centers in Dohuk (Bardarash and Bajet Kandala I) and one in Ninewa (Salamiyah); provision of mental health services in one camp in Anbar (Habaniyah Tourist City camp). Out of camps: activities within health facilities such as Al Rabea (Ninewa), Al Forat and Al Obaidi health care facilities (Anbar), and new activities in additional centers in the three governorates in order to strengthen quality and access to mental health services in Iraq along with national health authorities. In addition, Première Urgence Internationale is undertaking area-based actions aiming at restoring health centers and basic infrastructures as well as rehabilitating war-damaged shelters, schools and water treatment plants.
Pictures of Livia Saavedra
In Bardarash camp, Premiere Urgence Internationale improved the quality of mental health services
Since December 2019, Première Urgence Internationale managed for nine months the provision of primary free health care services in the reopened camp of Bardarash, Kurdistan region of Iraq. The teams ensured individual mental health follow-up and counselling, as well as training of Iraqi doctors to improve the services provided inside the camp.
Iraq: Alongside families living in camps, to keep them safe from COVID-19
In Iraq and Kurdistan, Première Urgence Internationale is an important camp health actor, managing primary healthcare centres in three camps hosting refugees and internally displaced people. To continue responding to the needs of these vulnerable populations in these times of pandemic, the mission reorganised its functioning, putting in place quarantine areas and conducting awareness raising sessions.