When the COVID-19 threat first hit Iraq, the gates of refugee camps swung shut, locked down against the virus. Blue, barbed-wire fences ringing the camps kept our friends in, and everyone else out.
Thousands of Syrian refugees, already far from home, couldn’t work—because most jobs are in the cities outside camps.
They didn’t have money. They didn’t have food.
But they had you.
As camps went into lockdown, you fed 2,000 refugee families at the highest risk of starvation. Orphaned children, widowed women, and those living with disabilities. Our team and volunteers went door-to-door, safely distributing food packs with essentials such as oil, rice, and bulgur.
They still need you. COVID-19 cases are soaring in Iraq right now, just as other countries start to emerge from the first wave of the pandemic.
The number of cases here doubled in the first week of June. Already struggling from decades of war and sanctions, Iraq is facing economic collapse.
And it’s refugees who are being hit the hardest.
The stories we’ve heard from our refugee friends have broken our hearts and filled them with awe, all at the same time.
Nasreen had no job, no food, no money.
And eight children to feed.Two of her kids still need milk, but there was no way she could afford it. So Nasreen did what she had to, in order to ensure her children had whatever nourishment she could find. She mixed bits of bread with tea.
Nasreen’s family wasn’t able to get help from other aid groups. This is the largest refugee camp in Iraq, and opportunity for anything—jobs, education, and yes, even relief—is never easy to come by.
We were one of the first to bring food to the families in this camp. It was certainly the first food to Nasreen received.
This is what you made happen for vulnerable families in not one but four camps in this region.
Families like Badiar’s.
Badiar is the sole provider for her family of 5, because her husband is still in Syria. She was beyond grateful for this food. She is beyond grateful for you.
Like so many refugees, Badiar was deep in debt, buying precious essentials on credit. But shop owners in the camp would not always extend credit to her, especially with her limited ability to pay the debt back. So skipping meals is a normal part of her children’s life.
On better days, there would be lunch and dinner. Too often though, there was only lunch.
Like Nasreen, Badiar hasn’t been able to get help from other aid groups either.
These are some of the myriad stories of incredible hardship happening in refugee camps right now. The situation for our displaced friends has never been easy—they are the last to be hired, the worst paid, the first to be laid off, and the last to be cared for. Add a pandemic to the mix, and the obstacles come close to being insurmountable.
But they don’t come last to you.
You were the first to make sure these vulnerable families were fed. So Nasreen’s kids had milk. So Badiar’s family had lunch and dinner.
Through COVID-19 lockdowns across Iraq, you’ve fed more than 12,000 refugees and displaced. You responded fast, so we could respond fast.
And they need you more than ever.
If you’re a monthly donor, you ensure that families who need food the most, get it—through natural disasters and health emergencies of an increasingly uncertain world, including ongoing waves of COVID-19 restriction policies as infection numbers climb.