Field Report: Families in Northern Iraq fleeing homes

Report
from Mercy Corps
Published on 19 Mar 2003
IDPs moving away from government-controlled Iraq
Mercy Corps staff in northern Iraq reported today that there are visible signs that a significant number of families are leaving their homes in anticipation of a conflict in the region.

Mercy Corps Global Emergency Operations (GEO) office Pete Sweetnam said that many families in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq are either moving away from their homes to remote areas of the region away from the government-controlled part of Iraq or they are seeking refuge along the border with neighboring countries.

Sweetnam said that by some estimates as many as 300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) per hour are arriving at the border - some by foot and some by buses and private vehicles.

"There isn't a panic in the Kurdish zone, but many people are leaving towns and cities for the countryside to avoid any possible conflict. Most people are going to relatives and friends, while some are also camping close to roads," Sweetnam wrote.

Sweetnam is in northern Iraq working with staff members from Mercy Corps' global partner Peace Winds Japan to prepare for a possible humanitarian crisis in the region. He is part of Mercy Corps' region-wide Iraq Emergency Response Team which is coordinating with international and local partners in Iraq and its neighboring countries.