Dreading Winter in Iraq
Cold, wet winter weather looms for displaced families who fled their homes to find safety in Iraqi Kurdistan.
“This is our most pressing concern today – that displaced communities are not prepared for winter,” says Mike Weickert, World Vision manager in Iraq. “People living in tents will be severely affected by the change of weather,” which is less than six weeks away, he says. “We are distributing blankets and mattresses today, but more needs to be done.”
About 480,000 displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan require winterization assistance for their shelters, which range from homemade tents to schools and unfinished commercial buildings. Shelter repair kits, insulation, heating stoves, and fuel are urgently needed, along with blankets, mattresses, warm clothing, and shoes.
The United Nations says there is a $360 million shortfall in the funding needed to assist families in preparing for wet snow and cold, common to the mountainous areas of northern Iraq. The need is especially great in Dohuk, which hosts 63 percent of the displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan. Harsh winter weather is the norm in high altitude areas of the province.
“We need blankets. We need a heater,” says 86-year-old Asmar Asleh, who shares a small, tiled corner of a partially covered courtyard with her daughter Khonaf, 60. The women worry how they will survive the cold nights in the mountainous area of Dohuk.
World Vision distributed supplies to Asmar, Khonaf, and 127 other families sheltering in two schools.
To date, World Vision has assisted more than 3,000 people with aid, including foam mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits, jerry cans, clothing, baby kits, and toys for children. World Vision aims to help 150,000 people over the coming months in Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Erbil provinces.
Written by Kathryn Reid and Mary Kate MacIsaac
Photo © 2014 Mary Kate MacIsaac / World Vision
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