A group of 40 displaced Iraqi's wait by the roadside, after a gruelling 65 kilometre journey in 48 degree heat.
Today began with our team receiving a call for help from a local doctor who had learned of approximately 40 recently arrived Ramadi residents on the outskirts of Sulaymaniah, the Kurdish region of Iraq’s second largest city.
Our team left immediately to assess the situation – what they found was incredibly distressing. “Most of them are suffering from dehydration,” one team member told me. He showed me a video he had taken of a young girl who looked about 10 years old. “She can’t even stand,” he said. “I was crying,” another colleague told me, himself a person who has been displaced by the crisis.
World Vision, in partnership with the World Health Organisation and the Kurdish Authorities, is providing vital primary health care services to Iraqis displaced by conflict in the west of the country.
My colleagues went on to tell me that the group had fled Ramadi in Anbar Governorate just 2-3 days ago as armed groups entered the city, travelling to the capital, Baghdad. Unable to stay there, they then were able to get a bus to the border of Sulaymaniah Governorate, where the Kurdish Region of Iraq begins.
From the border, they walked over 65 kilometres with no water. The temperature is 48 degrees today. The team told me they also observed cases of skin disease, heart problems and diabetes.
“We took a large case of water with us,” my colleague told me. “When we put it on the ground they…” he struggled for the English words but used his hands to gesture people swarming to the water. The team were also able to provide some basic health care such as oral rehydration salts and IV drips.
Unfortunately, due to strict security protocols, the group are unable to enter the city and have been forced to wait in the hot sun by the road. With some people affiliated with the armed groups acting as displaced people, each displaced person must now be screened before they can be granted clearance and access to the camps which have been established to house them.
These 40 people are just a drop in the ocean. Currently over 2.8 million Iraqis have been displaced by the conflict. The country is also hosting 235,000 refugees from neighbouring Syria. UN agencies and NGOs like World Vision simply do not have access to the resources they need to respond to the scale of the crisis with the interagency Iraq emergency response plan for 2015 only 37% funded.
Meanwhile, more and more people are fleeing for their safety and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. We need your help.