Based on previous winters, the coming cold season will see temperatures fall below zero, making the extremely difficult conditions for the people displaced by the war in Northern Iraq even more untenable. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only a few tents in the refugee camps are equipped for the winter. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has therefore decided – at the request of the UN Refugee Agency – to arrange a delivery of relief aid consisting of equipment for the winter.
The cargo being sent to Erbil will include 300 insulated tents, four large tents, 300 heaters, 3,000 blankets, 3,000 mattresses, and 600 cooking sets for 300 families or 1,800 persons. At the request of the local health ministry, it will also contain two transport units of medical equipment that can provide basic medical care for 10,000 people for three months. The approximate 50 tonnes of relief aid are worth CHF 400,000. The equipment will be loaded and transported to Northern Iraq on 25 September 2014, accompanied by an additional three Swiss specialists who will take charge of distributing and using the equipment on the ground. Two IDA kits will be flown into Iraq on a separate route.
This is the first time that the Swiss Confederation is delivering relief aid directly to Iraq; previously, this was carried out via projects with partner organisations (International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children Switzerland and the Norwegian Refugee Council) which it has supported this year with a total of CHF 8.6 million. This funding has been used to provide equipment and food aid for internally displaced people in Northern Iraq, particularly families and children. Switzerland is also active on the ground in Iraq where three of its SHA specialists are working to strengthen the activities of the UN organisations in the field.
Switzerland has repeatedly condemned the serious violations of international law in Iraq and has called on all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian law and human rights.
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