Humanitarian efforts in Northern Iraq

Norwegian People's Aid is running humanitarian projects in Northern Iraq. We fear a war against Iraq will have serious humanitarian consequences in these areas.
A war will most probably cause an influx of refugees from the central parts of Iraq to, amongst other places, the Kurdish areas of Northen Iraq. In addition, we have reasons to believe that there will be an influx of internal refugees in the Kurdish areas. With our presence in this area, NPA is able to assist the local authorities in receiving these refugees.

NPA has been working in the autonomous Kurdish areas since 1995. We give priority to the clearing of mines and unexploded ammunition as this is an area known as one of the most mine affected areas in the world. In addition to this, NPA is supporting local organisations working with human rights and a democratic development, alphabetization and fighting violence against women. We are also supporting various income generating projects for the local population.

NPA's work in Northern Iraq represents practical solidarity with a population that for decades has been victims of horrendous atrocities from Saddam Hussein's regime. Through our presence, we have achieved a high level of knowledge about local conditions, and we have established a network including local organisations and authorities and international aid organisations. This is important for our further work in these vulnerable areas - whether or not there will be a war.

If war should break out in Iraq, NPA will assist local authorities in establishing reception camps for internally displaced people in Mawat, north of Suleimaniya. The preparations to get enough food, medical supplies and equipment in case of an influx of refugees, have already started. NPA has also a group of deminers who can perform mine clearing operations on short notice if that should be necessary.

- NPA is strongly against a military attack on Iraq. However, we see the importance of being prepared on the humanitarian crisis that will emerge after a possible attack. We will need financial means to meet the needs, says Mr. Ivar Christiansen, Head of Information Department.

So far, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said no to applications from NPA and Norwegian Red Cross on extra grants to prepare humanitarian assistance in Iraq. MFA's argument is that increased preparedness gives the wrong signal that a war is inevitable.