COVID-19 Response: Iraq Update
The NP Iraq team has had to adjust to working from home, with all work currently being conducted remotely
Additional travel restrictions intended to protect Iraqi civilians from COVID-19 are making it practically impossible to reach the communities we serve. Our teams in Iraq primarily work with civilians in camps for displaced people from more than 8 countries.
Displaced people living in camps are highly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. The travel restrictions have made it difficult for civilians to leave the camp and seek medical attention, if needed. Prices increase for even the most basic products. And, aid distributions from humanitarian groups—including food, water, and kerosene—have slowed down, leaving people uncertain about when some of their basic needs will be met.
* * *
Thanks to your support, we are able to continue working diligently and persistently to regain access to the communities we serve. Along with other organizations, Nonviolent Peaceforce has submitted a request to the Iraqi government for an “Access Exemption” letter for NGOs delivering COVID-19 response and lifesaving activities.
However, while awaiting the exemption letter, we have been able to adapt to our protection work to be remote so that, in the meantime, we are still providing a critical response to civilians in Iraq—many who have travelled long distances from other countries. We are still providing a critical protective presence by continuing to check in over the phone with the civilians we serve. This continued communication allows us to understand their concerns during this time, share WHO safety guidelines, and advocate to ensure that their needs, security, and safety are met. This continued communication during the crisis would not be possible without your support of our teams building real relationships with people for the past 2 years.
For example, you have supported our community security meetings before the pandemic began. One of the regular attendees of those same community security meetings is empowered to continue his own protection work during the current health crisis. Now that NP has a remote presence, he is conducting his own safety patrols of the displaced persons camp. While patrolling, he has been identifying and finding solutions to problems in the camp. It is through the relationships we build that we see the strengthening of a community, coming together to solve issues with nonviolence during these trying times. Thank you for standing with displaced communities in Iraq throughout this health crisis.
“These days are one of the most difficult that we have faced since the Battle of Mosul. I patrol in the camp to inspect the IDPs situation in the camp on daily basis. ... I encountered two girls who were close to their tent ... it became clear that they were a vulnerable family: a widow with two children. The mother said "we have been forgotten and no one knows our condition except God" and I offered her a ration of my vegetables and small financial support for the children. After that, I left the widow’s tent, and at that moment, I felt how important it is the presence of the humanitarian organizations is to us, and I remembered the value of NP, and how their absence became a big gap for the whole camp.”
Community leader in Jedd'ah camp (South Mosul)