After two years, the long awaited military offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began in October 2016. In the summer of 2014, the militant group took control of the city, which has since remained their stronghold in Iraq. Preparations, both military and humanitarian, began for the offensive earlier this year. As a coalition of military forces prepared their advance, humanitarian actors prepared for the single largest and most complex humanitarian response of 2016. Over one million individuals are expected to be affected by fighting, human rights abuses and displacement in and around Mosul.
and around Mosul.
Nearly two months after military operations began civilians continue to be significantly impacted by the violence around them. By the end of 2016, 130,000 people had been displaced as a result of the military operations and many civilians, caught in the crossfire, have been killed or wounded in the fighting.
Today, over one million remain out of reach within the city and continue to be at extreme risk from cross-fire, snipers and artillery barrage. Civilians living under ISIL control or in areas recently retaken from ISIL must choose either: to flee seeking safety in camps, collective shelters and abandoned buildings; or remain in areas between frontlines. The majority of those who have managed to flee have done so with nothing but the clothes on their backs and now face the ordeal of finding shelter, food, basic items for survival such as blankets and heaters and access to services such as education and sanitation.
The onset of cold weather has further compounded the suffering of those affected by the violence and displacement. As we continue through the coldest months of the year there is an urgency to address these immediate humanitarian needs. Three Alliance2015 partners with considerable experience in humanitarian and recovery work in Iraq: ACTED; Welthungerhilfe; and consortium leader People in Need, have received funding from EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) to provide humanitarian support to 19,600 displaced and conflict affected men, women and children. After strategic consideration and planning, the project was launched beginning of January 2017 and the three partners will begin providing support to the most vulnerable immediately.
Through this EU Humanitarian Aid funded project, the Alliance2015 partners will provide life-saving and much needed assistance to families in three key response areas: protection from the elements; water supply and sanitation; and learning support.
Protective shelter, heating and fuel, warm clothing and blankets are priority needs for those displaced in harsh winter conditions. As such, we will distribute in-kind sealing-off kits, which will enable beneficiaries to upgrade or set up shelter to endure winter weather conditions. Having fled their homes with little to nothing, the partners will also provide in-kind, winterised essential item-kits to displaced families, which will contain personal items such as blankets, mattresses and heaters with fuel as well as general household items such as kitchen sets, hygiene items, solar lanterns, and more.
In areas recently retaken from ISIL, one of the key humanitarian concerns is the severe shortage of drinking water. In order to bring basic water supply infrastructure and services back online, the Alliance2015 partners intend to repair existing water schemes, establish emergency latrines and support solid waste management systems. We will also provide water trucking, where appropriate, and provide families with hygiene kits for immediate use.
And lastly, given the fact that over half of those being displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas are children under 18, there is also a huge need to ensure that children have access to psychosocial support services and recreational activities in order to prepare them for resuming their education. Such services and support will require the establishment and operation of Temporary Learning Spaces, which Alliance2015 partners will establish and maintain.
People in Need’s Emergency Programme Manager, Andrea Quaden, describes the benefits of Alliance2015 partners working together and the results that such a partnership approach funded by EU Humanitarian Aid will yield.
In such a complex and far-reaching emergency humanitarian situation, with many unknown variables and different needs to be addressed simultaneously, working together as Alliance2015 helps us to maximise our support and reach to the most vulnerable communities. Sharing in depth knowledge of the respective areas of operation, as well as tools and resources, allows us to respond to the most pressing needs quickly and in the most cost effective and efficient way. The close cooperation with and support from ECHO enables us to fulfil our humanitarian responsibilities on the ground and relieve the suffering of thousands of families.