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Iraq: CRS, Caritas Reach Displaced Families

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August 13, 2014

Escalating violence in northern and central Iraq has caused devastation and mass displacement of 1.2 million people since January. Fear looms as the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) has taken control of large swaths of the Ninewa, Salah Al-Din and Diyala provinces.

(This article is re-posted from CRS website detailing unfolding emergencies throughout the world.  Please visit http://emergencies.crs.org/ for more information on Iraq, Gaza, Africa and other areas.)

Religious minorities, including Christians, Shia Muslims and Turkmen, have been singled out for attack. On July 18, ISIS issued threats directly to Christians in Mosul, resulting in the sudden flight of the remaining 500 Christian families to safer areas of Ninewa.

The journey is not without danger: Families are stripped of all possessions at ISIS checkpoints. Many are living in empty houses, schools, clinics, church compounds and abandoned buildings, with living conditions deteriorating.

 CRS is providing humanitarian relief to 3,500 displaced Iraqi families in Ninewa. CRS works in close partnership with Caritas Iraq and is establishing a new joint office in Erbil, in addition to three locations in northern Iraq.

In June and July, CRS/Caritas Iraq provided 2,000 displaced families from Mosul with food, bedding and hygiene supplies.

The lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families are in peril and in need of meaningful interventions to prevent further catastrophe. CRS is seeking support for humanitarian efforts, which are critical to protecting and saving lives immediately, as well as preparing for the needs ahead.

Pope Francis launched an appeal for unity, calling for "security, peace and a future of reconciliation and justice, where all Iraqis, whatever their religion, could build their nation together, creating a model of coexistence." Iraqi bishops also issued a statement in July pleading for increased humanitarian assistance and protection of minorities.

Over the next 6 months, CRS will provide the following support to 30,000 families, with a commitment of $650,000 in private funds. Based on the evolving needs on the ground and our ability to identify additional resources, CRS and Caritas Iraq will expand these critical efforts to more families and communities in dire need.

With people on the move and robbed of their belongings, many have no means to purchase the basics. In coordination with the United Nations and peer agencies, CRS and Caritas will provide food, water and living supplies.

Emotional trauma is high, especially among minorities who were the target of attacks. CRS and Caritas will carry out puppet methodology for trauma healing and the building of peaceful relations. This will involve training of staff and volunteers on skills and practices proven successful in similar backdrops. Activities will engage children as well as their parents.

The Ministry of Education requested help to ensure that all children are able to take their end-of-year exams in mid-August. Many children have missed months of school. CRS and Caritas will provide children with education and exam preparation, while helping schools with the influx of children.

CRS/Caritas is preparing for the long-term reality facing families: resettling in new locations, the onset of winter, safe and dignified shelter, and livelihood options, such as cash- for- work and vocational training.