Humanitarian and economic crises have exhausted Iraq’s health system. There is an urgent and immediate need to provide essential life-saving services.
(Hospital in Semeel, North Iraq. © Chris de Bode)
This is why, since 2017, Cordaid supports basic healthcare services in North Iraq for the most vulnerable populations. These include returned minorities, internally displaced people and host communities. What follows is an overview of what we do where.
Why is healthcare support so badly needed in Northern Iraq?
Over 5 million Iraqis are internally displaced. They live in 3,700 locations across the country. More than one million IDPs and Syrian refugees have been resettled in the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq. Most of the IDPs that live across the governate of Ninewa fled from ISIS or from the military operations against ISIS. Many people suffered under ISIS, but in Ninewa especially minorities like Yezidi and Christians bore the brunt of the ISIS rule.
Some of the displaced return to their places of origin. But not all of them can. And host communities are too overburdened to support them.
Moreover, the economic situation has dramatically deteriorated. Health staff, especially doctors, have migrated out of the region. Health centers are not functioning. Staff is lacking and in many cases infrastructure is destroyed during the armed conflict. Besides the lack of basic healthcare services, IDPs and returnees are suffering from psychological health issues such as depression and anxiety. And especially women suffer from (sexual) violence.
Cordaid’s response 2017-2018
To address healthcare needs Cordaid has done the following in 2017-2018 :
- In Hamdaniya, Baghdaida, Wardak, Nemrood, Sayed Hamad and Bartella (Ninewa) Cordaid has supported health centers through awareness raising, reconstruction, capacity building for staff, psycho social support and funds for running costs. The health centers also support the process of return. This program was funded by Cordaid’s private donors and UNOCHA from June 2017 to August 2018.
- In Seje (Dohuk), Cordaid provides basic healthcare services to Yezidi and Christian IDPs who live in barracks or unfinished buildings. These Yezidi fled from Sinjar, and suffered enormously under ISIS rule. Cordaid educates on psycho social support, sexual reproductive health and rights and gender-based violence. We organize referrals and transport to specialists. Finally, a mobile team provides healthcare services to remote villages.
- In the area of Bashiqa (Ninewa) Cordaid offers basic healthcare services and mental health, psycho-social, and gender-based violence support to returnees.
More needs to be done
There is a continuous need to support the healthcare system in North Iraq due to the conflict and the atrocities of ISIS. Cordaid will focus new activities on districts and villages that only recently became secure. These are the villages where IDPs are beginning to return to. Sinjar is an example of a city where security and access are very difficult, and where healthcare needs are very high. We plan to start providing basic healthcare in Sinjar at the end of 2018. And Cordaid is looking for ways to increase activities that address mental health and gender-based violence.
If you would like to know more about our health programs in Iraq, please contact Albert van Hal, Cordaid’s Program Manager Middle East.