A cargo plane carrying close to 40 tonnes (more than 290 cubic metres) of emergency supplies will land in Erbil, Iraq, in the first of several operations organised jointly by the European Commission and Member States.
"The fighting continues to cause enormous suffering among the population in Iraq, especially around and inside Mosul, Hawija and Telafar. These air lifts, filled with urgently needed help, are a tangible expression of European solidarity with the Iraqi people. The European Union is at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Iraq, helping with funding and direct material assistance." said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
The plane delivered the first batch of urgently needed supplies, including 268 family tents which will shelter up to 1 400 people. Three thousand blankets, tarpaulins, sleeping pads, maternity kits for new born babies and hygiene supplies were offered by Finland through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The transport is 85% co-financed by the EU and coordinated by its Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC). The relief items will cover the basic needs of people affected by the ongoing fighting in and around Mosul.
A further plane carrying 100 tents, 10 000 blankets and 1 000 kitchen sets offered by Austria, with the transport co-financed by the EU, will also arrive in Erbil on 13 December. Another batch of over 570 tents, 7 400 blankets, non-food items (hygiene, school and family kits) and medical equipment were offered by Denmark and Sweden through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and are scheduled to arrive in Iraq on 14 December. In addition, generators have been offered by Germany and shipping arrangements are in progress.
This material assistance comes on top of €134 million humanitarian funding to Iraq which the European Commission made available earlier in 2016. The funding covers the essential needs of the most vulnerable in Iraq, including food, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as protection, shelter and education in emergencies.
Since the onset of the Mosul and Hawija emergencies, the EU has actively supported preparedness and response with €50 million of funding. Due to the ongoing conflict, lifesaving humanitarian efforts are being scaled up and focus on populations trapped in active conflict areas such as Mosul city, Telafar and Hawidja. Humanitarian efforts also centre on civilians in newly retaken areas still affected by fighting, as well as the increasing number of people forcibly displaced by the conflict. As winter closes in, life-saving winterisation and emergency health assistance are urgently needed, as well as additional field-level trauma care, medical evacuation and stabilisation capacity.
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is one of the largest and most complex in the world. More than 10 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian aid, including more than 3.3 million civilians displaced within the country. As many as 13 million Iraqis are expected to require humanitarian aid by the end of the year. Active fighting in densely populated areas like Mosul has dramatically increased the threat to civilians and further limited humanitarian access to provide lifesaving assistance. As a result of military operations in Mosul corridor/city, large-scale mass displacement is expected, with up to 1.5 million additional people requiring support.
Since 2015, EU humanitarian aid accounted for a total of over € 241 million and enabled life-saving operations throughout the country, especially in hard-to-reach areas and conflict affected locations. The European Union channels its substantial aid through partner organisations to where needs are the highest and in full respect of the humanitarian principles.