Iraq + 1 more

ACAPS Briefing Note: Humanitarian Implications of Violence in Northern and Central Iraq (7 August 2014)

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Key Findings

Anticipated scope and scale
An estimated 850,000 people have been displaced in the two months since the start of Islamic State’s (IS) ‘Ramadan offensive’, bringing the total displaced since the start of the year to 1.4 million. An unknown number of civilians are affected by conflict and the breakdown of public services. The situation is expected to deteriorate as fighting and human rights violations persist.

Most affected areas
Intense conflict has been reported from Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al Din, and Diyala. IDPs have been dispersed to 17 of Iraq’s 18 governorates (al Muthanna excepted), with the largest numbers residing in Anbar, Dohuk, Ninewa, and Erbil.

Priorities for humanitarian intervention

  • In light of the unfolding humanitarian emergency, WASH, Health and Food assistance to IDPs stranded in Jebel Sinjar is a top priority and may require airdrops. Civilians trapped in conflict-affected areas and whose access to basic services, food and other commodities is curtailed are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

  • Vaccination campaigns and WASH interventions to prevent further spread of communicable diseases.

  • Negotiations for safe passage of IDPs and establishment of safe areas, particularly for those at risk of sectarian violence.

  • Emergency repairs to critical water and electricity infrastructure.

Humanitarian constraints
Threats by both insurgents and military operations are significantly hampering national and international NGOs’ operations outside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I). Civilians in Anbar (Falluja, Ramadi, Al Qaim, Ana, Rawa, Rutba), Ninewa (Mosul and surrounding areas), Salah al Din and Diyala are particularly hard to reach. Several key supply routes have been blocked.

Key highlights (25 July – 7 August)

  1. August has seen significant deterioration in the humanitarian situation. An estimated 200,000 individuals may have been displaced from recent fighting in Sinjar and surrounding areas, and as many as 35-50,000 IDPs could be trapped in Jebel Sinjar in extremely urgent need of humanitarian assistance: tens of children are reported to have died from dehydration.

  2. Conflict affected areas face a breakdown of basic services, affecting an estimated 5 million people. Many qualified health, teaching and technical staff have fled and items such as spare parts, medicines and vaccines are in short supply. International humanitarian organisations are mostly unable to reach those trapped in contested areas and information on the current situation is extremely limited.

  3. Fighting between IS and Kurdish Peshmerga is currently concentrated around Mosul dam, Iraq's largest hydroelectric facility. If maintenance of the critically unstable dam is disrupted, the dam could be breached, leading to massive flooding. IS’ takeover of the dam could disrupt electricity supply to large parts of the country, including Baghdad.