A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Since the ousting of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Iraqi population of around 33 million has only been subject to short periods of relative peace as competing interests struggle for control. Since 2014 ISIS have seized control of large areas of the country, including several major cities. Millions of Iraqis have fled their homes, and there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance.
Oxfam in Iraq aims to build resilience in conflict-affected areas of the country by rehabilitating existing basic services and providing longer term interventions in the areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihoods (EFSVL), in coordination with local authorities and partners.
By leveraging our advocacy expertise we hope to influence approaches to humanitarian assistance in order to ensure and protect the rights of all individuals affected by the current conflict.
With our partners, Oxfam’s work has delivered WASH, EFSVL, protection, gender justice, and advocacy programs reaching over 250,000 conflict-affected Iraqis.
We are working in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Salahaddin governorates, which include contested territories on both sides of the Disputed Internal Boundaries (DIBs) in towns and villages in both rural and urban communities.
Oxfam in Iraq
- Providing immediate life-saving assistance to displaced people through cash or e-vouchers to meet critical household needs.
- Rehabilitating water infrastructure, providing sanitation facilities and supporting hygiene promotion activities.
- Providing livelihood opportunities for IDPs and returnees, allowing them to access income while displaced or recently returned. Protection activities including service mapping, information provision, and regular community dialog sessions are also mainstreamed throughout with a gender-sensitive lens and focus.
- As the frontline recedes, Oxfam plans to expand its operations to include new areas in Central Iraq. This includes recently establishing the Oxfam Baghdad office which will coordinate nationwide advocacy and enable partner-led responses to crises as they arise in Baghdad and the surrounding area.
The Mosul response
Since June 2014, Mosul (the second most populated city in Iraq) and its surrounding areas have been under the control of ISIS. Whilst most humanitarian organizations have not been able to access Mosul, it is estimated that there are currently over one million people inside the city living under ISIS rule.
Military operations along the Mosul corridor to lay the groundwork for retaking the city have already displaced almost 150,000 people since March 2016.
Oxfam’s Response and Activities
Oxfam has scaled up its response, operating in key strategic areas, reaching all categories of people: newly displaced in camps, host communities, and returnees. In order to protect the most vulnerable men, women, boys and girls, we are prepared for a flexible approach where priorities are water, sanitation and hygiene and, emergency food security and vulnerable livelihoods.
Our ‘One Program’ approach seeks to consider long-term and sustainable solutions as part of its humanitarian response. Whilst immediate needs (food, water, and shelter) must be met by humanitarian assistance, it is important to look past the retaking of Mosul so as to ensure a safe and dignified future for all Iraqis.