Iraqi families urgently need your help

After decades of unrest, over 3 million Iraqis have been forced to abandon their homes and are displaced across Iraq. Since the north of the country fell under the control of militant extremist groups in 2014, mass executions, systematic enslavement, torture, rape, and other crimes against humanity have become widespread.

Australia for UNHCR has launched an emergency appeal to help the UN Refugee Agency provide shelter and protection to civilians fleeing the battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

The battle for Mosul

Mosul is the target of a major offensive as Iraqi Government forces attempt to retake the city, where more than 160,302 people have fled since Monday 17 October 2016.

UNHCR expects as many as 1.5 million people could forced to flee Mosul and surrounding areas, or need humanitarian protection, creating a large scale, humanitarian crisis after government forces reach Mosul.

These civilians, the majority of whom are families and children, will have to flee with little or no belongings. This is made worse by the winter climate, as temperatures at night can fall below zero.

The UN Refugee Agency is at the forefront of the humanitarian response to this crisis.

To prepare for this humanitarian emergency, UNHCR is urgently seeking funds to help it establish camps to provide those fleeing with protection, shelter and core relief items.

Since the beginning of 2017, UNHCR only has 5% of the budget needed for the emergency response across Iraq (only 5c for every $1).

UNHCR is leading the humanitarian response in Iraq, particularly in the areas of humanitarian protection, camp coordination and management, shelter and relief items (mats, blankets, plastic sheeting, buckets and jerry cans to store clean drinking water, kitchen sets and sanitary kits).

UNHCR is providing:

  • protection for families fleeing militant extremist rule,
  • monitoring checkpoints to ensure people safe passage out of conflict zones,
  • and running displacement and refugee camps in the north.

In addition, we are providing displaced Iraqis with shelter, blankets, food and medical care. But as the situation worsens, our teams and resources are stretched beyond capacity.

Families seek safety from battle for Mosul.

Internally displaced Mosul families face harsh winter weather.

Support the Iraqi Emergency


Your donations in action

A mother walks her child home from class at a camp for displaced Iraqis in Baghdad


Education Education

Core relief items include blankets, mattresses, cooking utensils and hygiene items

Supplies Supplies

Hamid with his family outside their temporary home in the Al Jamea’a camp in Baghdad


Shelter Shelter

UNHCR distributes additional drinking water in the hotter months


Get the facts about our impact

Supplies Supplies Supplies
Shelter Shelter Shelter
Food Food Food
Protection Protection Protection
Medicine Medicine Medicine
Cash Assistance Cash Assistance Cash Assistance

Providing Supplies

UNHCR distributes life-sustaining items such as mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, stoves and fuel, soap and other sanitary items to refugees under its care. These supplies are tailored to the specific needs of the refugee population: for example, winterisation kits are distributed in camps and communities where sub-zero temperatures occur. UNHCR maintains global stockpiles of core relief items for immediate delivery in emergency situations.

After fleeing their homes with few possessions, displaced Iraqi families have little to keep them warm through the winter when temperatures can plummet to minus 16 degrees Celsius. During the winter months, UNHCR provides hundreds of thousands of Iraqis with ‘winterisation’ kits containing thermal blankets, quilts, a heating stove, kerosene, and a plastic sheet for insulation.

Providing Shelter

UNHCR provides refugees with emergency shelter — tents, tarpaulins and demountable housing — in the immediate aftermath of displacement. More broadly, we are responsible for site planning and camp management to ensure refugee settlements are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. For those living outside camps, UNHCR funds the rehabilitation of communal shelters, the construction of new homes and rental assistance for those in urban situations. UNHCR also provides materials that displaced people need to build a home themselves under self-help schemes.

Seasonal extremes are a major concern for displaced Iraqis living in non-permanent dwellings. UNHCR is working with local authorities to set up emergency shelters and provide families with tents, plastic sheeting and mattresses. This has included the delivery of close to a thousand family tents to a new camp for displaced people near Duhok in the Kurdistan region. We are also involved in the planning and construction of future camps as they are needed.

Providing Food 

Malnutrition is a common consequence of conflict and displacement. UNHCR works with the World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure that all refugees have access to adequate nutrient-rich food. UNHCR assists with the distribution of food rations in camps and provide urban refugees with vouchers and cash assistance for the purchase of food and groceries. In acute situations, UNHCR supports emergency nutrition and therapeutic feeding programs, supplying fortified milks and ready-to-use therapeutic foods.

Providing Protection

People fleeing war, disaster or persecution can be very vulnerable. UNHCR supplies displaced people with essential items, food and shelter to protect them from having to make dangerous decisions to survive. On a larger scale, UNHCR negotiates safe passage, asylum spaces and humanitarian access, upholding the rights of refugees and minimising the threat of violence, including sexual assault.

Part of UNHCR’s work in emergencies is identifying vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, and children to receive special protection services. Protection teams are stationed at transit centres to carry out this work and to ensure people have safe passage out of the conflict zone. In the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), camp management includes making sure that the most endangered inhabitants are protected from violence and exploitation.

Providing Medication

UNHCR facilitates access to basic healthcare for refugees through camp clinics and local healthcare providers. Priority health services include emergency medical care for those who have suffered violence, reproductive services and treatment for infants and the elderly. UNHCR also coordinates immunisation programs to prevent the spread of diseases in crowded refugee settings.

Providing Cash Assistance

Most refugees live in places where they have access to markets and services in the same way that local communities do. Providing refugees with cash, by way of a secure biometric system, enables them to make decisions about their personal needs. This also helps prevent refugees being forced into desperate measures such as undertaking dangerous journeys, taking children out of school or survival sex. Cash assistance also helps refugees to support the local economy, aiding social integration.

UNHCR uses cash-based interventions to provide relief and assistance to the most vulnerable displaced Iraqis. Cash and vouchers help families prioritise their own needs in areas like food, water, healthcare and shelter, and allow them to build and support their livelihoods.

Get the latest statistics on the emergency in Iraq.

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