13 Oct 2014 |

Mission East ensures winter help for the most needy in Iraq

While the fighting in northern Iraq and Syria continues, the Danish organisation, Mission East, intensifies relief efforts as winter nears in the Dohuk region of northern Iraq.

With temperatures dropping to freezing point in the upcoming winter months, relief aid is urgently needed in the Dohuk region of northern Iraq. In light of this, aid workers from the Danish organisation, Mission East, provide winterization for the most vulnerable displaced people.

Sigurd Sorensen, project manager at Mission East in northern Iraq, , has assessed the needs among the most vulnerable. He found that many of the displaced live in very precarious conditions, outside of the official UN system, and without permanent shelter. They live in either makeshift tents, unfinished building construction sites or in and around churches and schools. The situation will only worsen during the winter.

On the move constantly

A large proportion of those who do not have permanent shelter, belong to the disadvantaged Yezidi minority in the northern part of the country.

A common problem for these people is that many of them are forced to constantly move, partly due to unpredictable conflict and partly because of the scarcity of resources in the areas they flee to.

Ayad Saleh, engineer on location for Mission East in Iraq, explains after having spoken with a group of people from the Yezidi minority: "They fled from Sinjar and settled in an unfinished building on a construction site in Dohuk. The building's owner demanded that they leave within five days, and they had nowhere else to go."

Desperate need of basic protection from the winter

The major problem is the lack of space for the establishment of permanent camps for the displaced people. Kendrah Jespersen, co-ordinator of the operation at Mission East’s Brussels office, explains: "We are looking at the possibility of developing mobile homes, so that the people can move if the situation gets worse. But right now and for the next month, the most important work is to provide basic protection for people before winter sets in."

This protection consists of, among other things, plastic sheets for covering the missing doors and walls of the unfinished buildings on the construction sites, as well as stoves. Another important focus is hygiene. Mission East provides hygiene kits and jerry cans to collect and store clean water.

Capacity building of churches

Mission East continues to support the displaced Christians through the local churches. "The churches that have carried out a tremendous effort in order to help the displaced Christians are becoming increasingly drained. The long term plan is to educate the church staff in how to distribute resources appropriately. We will also ensure direct assistance to the most vulnerable; pregnant women, infants and people with disabilities," reports Kendrah Jespersen.

For more information, contact Deputy Secretary Peter Sigetty Bøye on telephone +45 20 20 77 27 or email peter.boje@missioneast.org.