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Iraq: Handicap International prepares to respond to emergency needs in Mosul

Emergency
Iraq

Three weeks after the start of the military offensive to take back the city of Mosul in Iraq, over 34,000 people have already been displaced. Handicap International is preparing to provide them with support and to deploy substantial resources to respond to the emergency situation.

These children found an unexploded device while playing and used the techniques they had learned in the risk education sessions to secure the area while awaiting the demining team.

These children found an unexploded device while playing and used the techniques they had learned in the risk education sessions to secure the area while awaiting the demining team. | © J. Zahorski / Handicap International

One of Handicap International's teams in Iraq has been visiting different displacement areas both last week and this week. Thousands of displaced people from the towns and villages surrounding Mosul have already arrived in Qayyarah, Al Haj Ali, and the Jad’ah and Debaga displaced persons camps.

Assessing needs

The aim of these first visits is to assess the needs in these displacement areas, in order to provide the most appropriate humanitarian response. Handicap International will soon be launching rehabilitation, psychosocial support and mine risk education activities in these camps and communities of displaced persons. The visits also allowed our team to check the level of accessibility of the structures in which the displaced persons will be accommodated, to ensure that people with disabilities are not left out of the emergency response and have the same access to humanitarian services as all the other civilians who have fled their homes.

Deployment of mobile teams

In parallel, Handicap International is currently training mobile teams for its emergency intervention on the ground.  No fewer than 4 risk education teams, 4 psychosocial support teams, and 3 rehabilitation teams are ready to be deployed to the displacement areas.

"We have also recruited psychologists to work with the most severely traumatised people," explains Fanny Mraz, Head of Mission for Handicap International in Iraq, referring to those people who have lived for several years in the areas controlled by the Islamic State group.

"Our teams are also made up of Iraqi volunteers, themselves part of the displaced population, who will be able to help us identify the people in urgent need of psychological support. They will also help us to organise activities for children in the displacement areas."

Training humanitarian organisations

Handicap International is one of the main organisations delivering risk education activities in Iraq, and is therefore getting ready to train other humanitarian organisations on mine and explosive remnants of war risk education.

"The contamination - the presence of explosive remnants of war - is not immediately obvious for everyone, so it is important that everybody is properly informed about the situation. These weapons and improvised explosive devices affect civilian populations and can also harm the humanitarian workers who are there to provide them with assistance," adds Fanny Mraz.

"It is therefore vitally important that everyone is made aware of these risks when preparing an intervention in a highly contaminated country such as Iraq. Our expertise in this field and our extensive experience can also be put to good use by other humanitarian actors when implementing their emergency response interventions in the country."

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