Displaced Iraqi Families Prepare for Freezing, Wet Winter

Iraq - Since the beginning of the current crisis in Iraq, internally displaced people (IDPs) have expressed concern about winter. Many lack warm clothes, blankets and adequate housing and are ill-prepared for cold weather.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which hosts an estimated 47 per cent of all people displaced in the current crisis, is the northern-most and coldest area in the country; snowfall is common in winter. In central and southern Iraq temperatures also often drop to near freezing with frequent rain in many areas.

The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) estimates that there are over 1.8 million IDPs in Iraq. Approximately 35 per cent (over 635,000) have sought refuge in alternative shelter arrangements in schools, religious buildings, unfinished buildings and camps.

In coordination with local government authorities and UN partners, and with the support of donors, IOM is helping displaced families to prepare for winter. The most vulnerable IDPs are prioritized for assistance based on information from Governorate Emergency Cells, taking into account their needs and geographic location.

IOM plans to help prepare IDPs for winter by providing winterization non-food relief item (NFI) kits; full NFI kits; winterized tents; prefabricated shelter units; and vouchers for heating fuel (kerosene).

IOM currently has funding to purchase and distribute just over 12,000 tents and 500 pre-fabricated houses. Over 4,000 tents are already in IOM warehouses or are being prepared for distribution; pre-fabricated houses are also under construction.

These shelters will serve an estimated 64,500 IDPs. Initial winterized tent distributions began last week in the districts of Akre and Semel in Dahuk Governorate. Assessments are ongoing, in cooperation with local authorities, to identify communities most in need.

From January through the end of October, IOM Iraq also distributed over 45,000 family NFI kits. In preparation for winter, it is now adapting these to reflect the need for winterized items, including thicker blankets, carpets, kerosene heaters, and plastic sheeting. Full winterization kits also contain mattresses, pillows, towels, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, kerosene stoves and plastic cabinets.

IOM began distribution of full winterization NFI kits on 11 October; over 9,000 kits have thus far been distributed across 10 Governorates. Current funding levels will enable IOM to provide an additional 31,000 winterized NFI kits to serve an estimated 186,000 IDPs throughout Iraq; 8,000 of these winterized NFI kits are already in IOM warehouses. More NFI kits will be distributed if funding permits.

Mariam, an IDP in Erbil City said: “We are happy to be in this unfinished building and have a space for our three children; it is better than being outdoors. But the roof leaks and puddles form in our room. Our conditions are very bad. We had blankets, but did not have enough, until IOM gave us more. The heater is also important, as it's very cold here at night.”

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said, "Winterization support is currently a primary concern for IOM in view of the upcoming drop in temperatures. IOM will continue to provide for IDPs' immediate needs through NFIs, shelter, and health services and for longer term needs through livelihoods and early recovery interventions."

As part of the UN Humanitarian Country team, in 2014-2015 IOM aims to assist 750,000 IDPs affected by the current crisis in Iraq. IOM Iraq’s funding requirements are USD 295.5 million, but the IOM appeal for the Iraq crisis currently is funded at 27 per cent.

For more information please contact

Sandra Black
IOM Iraq
Tel: +964 751 234 2550
Email: sblack@iom.int