Iraq civilians fleeing violence in Mosul, Erbil, Tikrit and surrounding areas are facing a potentially devastating humanitarian crisis, warned humanitarian organization International Medical Corps. More than 500,000 people have fled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and are in urgent need of medical care, food, shelter, and relief supplies.
Up to 300,000 people are seeking safety north of Mosul in Erbil and Dohuk where support systems are already overwhelmed by Syrian refugees and Iraqis displaced by violence in Anbar. Hospitals in Erbil are at capacity and struggling to absorb the influx of Iraqis in need of health care. Iraqis are fleeing with limited supplies and significant needs, including access to health care and shelter. Due to the lack of basic living conditions, there is concern of disease outbreaks such as cholera, measles, and acute respiratory infections.
The Iraq government has called for international assistance from the UN, the EU, and the Arab league to meet the humanitarian needs in the country and International Medical Corps is coordinating with local partners and authorities to respond.
Having operated in Iraq for over a decade, International Medical Corps is well placed to immediately deliver a comprehensive emergency response, including relief and medical supplies to those displaced by the violence. The organization is deploying mobile medical units to increase access to primary health care and emergency health services, delivering medical supplies to hospitals struggling to cope with increased caseloads, and preparing for longer term threats to the health system, such as disease outbreaks.
“As the fighting intensifies, people will be moving out of urban areas into surrounding communities, greatly stressing the current systems’ capacity to meet basic humanitarian needs,” said Gerald Evans, Iraq Country Director for International Medical Corps. “It’s not clear yet how the situation will evolve in the next few days but International Medical Corps is ready to launch a humanitarian response.”