World Humanitarian Day 2017 - Medair relief workers open only clinic in embattled Sinjar
18 August 2017
On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, on August 19, 2017, emergency relief and recovery organisation Medair salutes humanitarians working internationally as well as within their own countries, risking their lives every day to bring critical aid in extremely insecure areas. In August 2014, conflict in Iraq’s Sinjar District forced an estimated 200,000 people from their homes and prompted the United Nations to designate the crisis as a level three humanitarian emergency. Medair responded, and has continued to work in northern Iraq and Sinjar District.
Although retaken in late 2015, Sinjar town continued to be affected by nearby fighting. Even after the town was no longer occupied by armed groups, buildings and infrastructure continued to be destroyed by the proximity of an active front line. Families who fled during the initial crisis remained living in camps across northern Iraq, or in makeshift settlements on Sinjar mountain. Medair has been serving these populations with mobile health clinics operating on the mountain and in nearby villages.
As surrounding areas have become more secure, families have returned to try rebuilding lives interrupted by conflict. On 1 August, Medair opened the only primary health care clinic within Sinjar town. Each week, the mobile health team provides treatment for acute and chronic diseases, as well as pre and ante natal care, and dispenses critical medications.
“We have been supporting people in the area and were finally able to reach Sinjar town,” says Medair Country Director Hector Carpintero. “On our first visit, we learned that the hospital had been damaged and that no other health facility was operating. Our team was eager to open a clinic and support families who are trying to start over in Sinjar.”
Many of the Medair staff in Iraq are from the Sinjar region and were directly affected by the crisis. “I have immense respect for their commitment and courage,” says Carpintero. “Since opening the clinic in early August, we have completed more in-depth assessments and are looking to expand our operations and be positioned to provide more support for people coming back to Sinjar town, in particular with access to water and sanitation, cash assistance and psychosocial support.
As of 10 August, leaders in Sinjar town estimate that 1,500 families have returned, and that 50 new families are arriving daily.
Thanks to Medair’s work in 2016, more than 1.8 million people around the world received life-saving support. On World Humanitarian Day, Medair honours all workers assisting people affected by conflict and disaster.
For more information about Medair’s Iraq programme, please click here.
Photo @Medair/Andy Davidhazy: Relief worker Miriam Etter (UK) works with Medair’s mobile health teams in Sinjar. Medair’s psychosocial support project has helped Baseema, 15, regain her life and have hope for the future.
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