Iraq: population movement

Red Crescent prepared to assist hundreds of thousands fleeing Mosul

With the launch of the Mosul operations, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are expected to flee the city’s centre and suburbs to safer areas in the country in the coming days.

To respond to the expected human crisis, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society has mobilized its human and financial resources and prepared food items that would meet the needs of more than one million displaced persons.

More than 2,500 Red Crescent volunteers and members are already on ground to serve displaced populations, and the National Society established two operations centres in Erbil and Salahuddin to run relief operations.

Red Crescent volunteers have prepared dry food, food baskets and are deploying field kitchens and bakeries to provide internally displaced people with basic needs. Red Crescent first aid and psychosocial support teams will accompany relief teams during their operations in different Iraqi regions where to Mosul’s displaced will be heading.

Read the statement by Iraqi Red Crescent Society

Red Crescent response

Throughout the Iraq, more than 10 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. An estimated 3.4 million people – 10 per cent of Iraq’s total population – are currently displaced.

The IFRC fears that ongoing military operations could drive this figure as high as 5 million people by the end of 2016.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society has been providing assistance to displaced families for months, and Red Crescent teams on the ground have now significantly scaled up their assistance to meet dramatically growing needs.

Food and shelter

On arrival in camps and safer cities, displaced families are met by Iraqi Red Crescent Society teams, who provide information on the assistance that will be provided, and help families to find shelter.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society has established four bakeries to meet these needs. Each day, 16,000-20,000 loaves of bread are baked in the Red Crescent bakeries, and distributed to those in need in the camps and shelters.

During Ramadan, field kitchens were established at some of the main camps where displaced families were staying, in order to provide additional support.

Medical assistance

Medical assistance has been one of the key needs of those arriving in temporary camps. In Anbar, Iraqi Red Crescent Society has responded with 6 ambulances and trained teams, providing 24-hour assistance to those in need. Between late May and the end of June, these Red Crescent teams assisted 8,000 people, including many children, with medical care.

Overall, more than 20,000 people were provided with first aid by the Red Crescent in camps throughout the region between May and the beginning of July.

Providing water in burning hot temperatures

In the height of the Iraqi summer temperatures have been reaching over 50 degrees Celcius. For the tens of thousands living in temporary camps and informal settlements, live has become close to unbearable. For families who are fleeing fighting on foot, many have had little choice but to cross desert conditions with little or no water.

Iraqi Red Crescent volunteers have already provided thousands of bottles of safe drinking water to people arriving at safer cities. Where possible, the water has been given chilled, in order to quench both the thirst and respond to the high temperatures.

Humanitarian crisis

Anbar governorate

From late May to the end of June, military operations in and around the city of Fallujah have led to rapid movement of thousands of families from the city and nearby areas away from the fighting in search of safety. Tens of thousands of people are currently living in camps and informal settlements in temperatures that exceed 50 degrees Celcius. In Al Anbar, there are now 66 camps and informal settlements for those that have fled the city of Fallujah and surrounding countryside. The lucky few are staying with friends and relatives.


Fighting in the city of Fallujah in late May and June caused an additional 85,000 people, or 14,000 families, fled their homes. Many of those that fled by road were able to take only what they could carry.

Others did not even have this option, having no choice but to cross the Euphrates River by swimming. Although most made it across the river, lives were lost either to the waters or to snipers. On the far bank, Iraqi Red Crescent Society teams provided first aid and water to those who had made it.

Most displaced people from Fallujah were taken to Ameriyat al Fallujah, a town around 30 kilometres south of the city, where existing humanitarian infrastructure was prepared in anticipation of these flows but has proven inadequate to support the full number of people.

Public and private infrastructure in Fallujah has been destroyed, and it is expected to take months before families are able to return to discover what remains of their homes.

It is estimated that over 400,000 people could be displaced as a result of the fighting that would ensue with armed groups by the end of the year.

Saladin governorate

As military operations in west and north Iraq continue to evolve, families across the region have had no choice but to flee to safer areas. Tens of thousands had already been displaced by fighting in Al-Shirqat district, Saladin governorate. Iraqi Red Crescent Society estimate that 5,000 people were displaced from Al-Shirqat district, Saladin governorate, the first weeks of July alone. This latest wave of displacement adds to the tens of thousands of people who had already been displaced over the past 18 months.

Hundreds of families have fled to Tikrit, over 100 kilometres from Shirqat in search of refuge. Iraqi Red Crescent Society are providing assistance to these families in the form of much-needed water and food, including thousands of loaves of bread, as well as health and psychosocial support.


Relief distribution in Tikrit

About Iraqi Red Crescent Society

Iraqi Red Crescent Society was established in 1932. The society’s headquarters are in Baghdad and there are branches in each of the country’s governorates.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society delivers a broad range of programmes through its nationwide network of volunteers. Activities include:

• Emergency relief
• Restoring family links
• First aid
• Psychosocial support
• Evacuation of those caught up in conflict environments
• Social service activities

There are currently 7,300 registered Red Crescent volunteers across 18 branches in Iraq.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society counts on the support of dozens of Movement and non-Movement partners in order to deliver the lifesaving assistance that they are mandated to provide.

While responding to the needs of families and individuals displaced in Anbar, Nineveh and their surrounding areas, it has used much of its relief stock in the operation. Support from partners is urgently needed in order to be able to continue to respond.

In response to the latest wave of population movement, the IFRC has launched emergency appeal to enable Iraqi Red Crescent Society to continue to provide even as the crisis evolves.  This appeal for 3.4 million Swiss francs will enable Red Crescent teams to provide assistance to 90,000 for up to 9 months.

Also available in: Arabic

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies