When ISIS surged through Northern Iraq, many people fled from their homes to nearby cities, seeking safety and protection. Local community groups were overwhelmed by the surge of people and their needs. DP&R team members working alongside such groups found families living in tents along highways, in unfinished tower blocks, and squatting in local schools which were closed for the summer.
In response to the stated needs of community leaders from within the Internally Displaced populations – who were finding that cramped, crowded communal living was leading to high incidences of disease – and drawing on lessons learned from responding to the surge of refugees from the Syrian war who had fled into Jordan, the Disaster Preparedness & Response team assisted not just with immediate food needs, but also with health and hygiene support. Food packs were accompanied by cleaning and sanitary products, to help reduce the high levels of disease. By focusing on health needs, people not only stayed in better condition for dealing with the harsh environment in which they found themselves, but also retained their savings for other pressing needs rather than spending large amounts on medical treatment for their illnesses.
Although disaster response situations call for immediate responses to overwhelming needs, by applying lessons learned from one context to a subsequent one, and by focusing on the longer-term well-being of beneficiaries, the Disaster Preparedness & Response team aimed to take a long-term view from the outset of the disaster. Subsequent teams in North Iraq have focused on rehabilitation and meeting other health needs.