Two weeks ago, fighting broke out in the village of Telskuf in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In August 2014, IS attacked this village which was home to around 12,000 Christians. The population of this village fled and were scattered across the surrounding areas in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, taking shelter anywhere they could along with the hundreds of thousands of other Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) who fled IS atrocities that Summer.
These four families fled during the first attack, and are still struggling to survive in challenging circumstances. These four families have managed to find shelter that is far from ideal in abandoned buildings and caravans. They regularly go for many days without fruit, vegetables and other essential, nutritious foods.
Like many of the other IDP’s in Iraq, they are missed by the other aid agencies who only give food rations to families living in camps. Often, the families living outside the camps face equally challenging living conditions which are accentuated by the lack of employment, food insecurity and absence of hope for a better future for them and their children.
These four families are living in some of the worst conditions in the village of Bekhitmeh, outside Dohuk where there are around 60-70 IDP families. Our local partners distributed some of our winter aid in this village last Autumn, and we have been supporting other IDP’s in this area with food parcels and fuel for heating over winter.
Around 10 million people in Iraq are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Two years into the crisis, nearly 1 million people are still living in tents and critical shelter arrangements including unfinished and abandoned buildings, animal sheds and public buildings.
The Government’s public food distribution system is currently stretched to its limits in much of the country. Production and supply shortages and increases in demand have forced up the cost of basic commodities, including food. Families across the country, particularly in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where the population has increased by 30 per cent, have been unable to cover basic needs.
The debt burden has quadrupled in Dahuk, Diyala, Erbil, Ninewa, and Sulaymaniyah governates since October 2014, which has resulted in child labour, early marriage, and/or families embarking on dangerous journeys to leave Iraq.
It is estimated that there are just 250,000 Christians left in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
The picture shows four IDP families being given food in the home of one of the villagers from the host village of Bekhitmeh.