UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in coordination with its partner, Muslim Aid, has been stepping up assistance to displaced Iraqis and residents in newly retaken towns and villages east of Mosul, and begun distributing thousands of blankets and quilts as temperatures plummet in northern Iraq.
The towns and villages on the eastern outskirts of Mosul City have been retaken in recent weeks, as the Iraqi security forces continue their advance on Mosul.
As the security situation has stabilised, humanitarian agencies have moved in to provide rapid assistance, both to people who remained in their homes during the fighting, to those who have returned to their old neighbourhoods and to newly-displaced Iraqis from Mosul city who have sought shelter there.
This week, around 3,500 kits, each containing two blankets and two quilts, were distributed in Gogachly. 4,745 kits were distributed to communities in Nemrud and nearby villages. Nearly 3,500 extra kits will be delivered to families in other areas in the coming days.
“The situation is very precarious for Iraqis affected by the ongoing military confrontations and they urgently need humanitarian assistance”, said UNHCR Senior Field Co-ordinator, Hovig Etyemezian.
“Newly displaced Iraqis, those who never left their villages and other families who have only just returned to their homes, often lack the resources to survive - especially during the harsh winter.
Our help is giving them extra support to cope with the most difficult time of the year”, said Etyemezian. UNHCR has also been distributing winter kits in camps hosting displaced Iraqis.
The agency hopes to provide winter assistance to 1.2 million newly-displaced Iraqis. More than 76 000 people have been displaced since the start of the military offensive to retake Mosul.
Currently UNHCR has six camps ready to receive people displaced from Mosul and surrounding towns and villages.
UNHCR’s Mosul emergency response, costed at $196.2m, is only 57%-funded. The largest funding gap is for the agency’s winter assistance programme.