Iraq earmarks emergency funds for families who fled ISIL

Iraqi families get water at a temporary camp in Aski Kalak in northern Iraq. Several families that fled ISIL violence in Ninawa province took refuge in the Kurdish region. [Karim Sahib/AFP]

Iraqi families get water at a temporary camp in Aski Kalak in northern Iraq. Several families that fled ISIL violence in Ninawa province took refuge in the Kurdish region. [Karim Sahib/AFP]

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Iraq has earmarked emergency funds to meet the needs of families who were displaced when the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) swept through three provinces.

"The government has approved the request submitted by our ministry to allocate 10 billion Iraqi dinars ($8.6 million) to meet the needs of displaced families from the provinces of Ninawa, Salaheddine and Diyala," said Sattar Nowruz of the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced.

These funds will be used to supply the displaced families with "food, water and tents, in addition to electricity, medical services and other relief requirements in the three provinces which are witnessing acts of violence and military operations", he told Mawtani.

The ministry's emergency committee and its observation and relief teams are working hard to evaluate the situation and meet people's needs, he said, noting that it has been difficult to determine with accuracy the overall number of the displaced.

"Ministry teams are now working on determining the number of displaced families to get to know their living conditions and humanitarian circumstances," Nowruz said.

Information collected on families who have been displaced or driven out will be entered into a ministry database, he added.

Meeting basic needs

The government-allocated funds are earmarked "to enable our ministry to meet the basic needs of the displaced, such as food, water, infant formula, tents, living necessities and relief services", said ministry undersecretary Salam al-Khafajy.

These funds will not take the form of cash payments to displaced families at this time, he said.

"The ministry's essential goal at this time is how to meet the urgent needs of the displaced -- the payment of cash amounts will be made in a later step after their data has been registered, their numbers accurately determined and a report sent to the minister indicating our readiness to begin paying these grants," al-Khafajy said.

"Citizens' movement from hot spots in the troubled provinces is constantly fluctuating, changing and growing daily, which makes it difficult to pay out financial compensations or assistance at present," he said.

"Our ministry's follow-up teams observed over the past few days a new mass movement by thousands of Iraqi families towards secure cities, areas and villages in the northern and eastern parts of the country," al-Khafajy said.

"We registered the entry of about 5,000 displaced families into Sinjar, 3,000 families into Khanqin, 1,200 families into Chamchamal, 500 families into al-Hamdaniya and 480 families into Khazer and Baathra," he said.

Additionally, he said, an undetermined number of families left for the Kurdish region and managed to find accommodation in hotels or rented houses.

Joint efforts

Al-Khafajy urged humanitarian organisations to work closely with the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced to "consolidate the joint efforts to help in improving the situation of the displaced and to provide the necessary services and aid".

He noted that many of the displaced had left their homes "in a hurry, and without taking their most basic needs for bedding, mattresses and other necessary belongings".

The government will need to increase the funds allocated to help those displaced from their homes, said MP Liqaa Wardi, who chairs the parliamentary committee on the displaced.

"There is a need to mobilise more relief aid to the displaced families to provide for their increasing daily need for water and food, and to cover the needs of other newly displaced populations," she told Mawtani.

Families are continuing to flee the provinces of Ninawa, Salaheddine and Diyala in large numbers, Wardi said, which creates "huge pressure" on government and non-government agencies.

"The priority now is to provide urgent relief assistance to those who have newly fled and are now living in displacement camps and barracks," she said.

Immediate measures are needed to provide for the safety of the displaced, move them to temporary living quarters and provide for their various needs, Wardi said.

Ultimately, she said, serious steps must be taken to end the current crisis and enable the families to go back to their homes, as it is unacceptable for Iraqis to be refugees in their own country.