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Handicap International provides emergency relief for displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees, alongside its long-term projects, providing support for manufacturing prostheses, delivering physiotherapy and raising awareness about landmines and explosive remnants of war.

Children in Khazir camp, Iraq - Handicap International

© Camille Borie / Handicap International

Actions in process

Handicap International has been working in Iraq for over 20 years, offering its expertise to services making prostheses and delivering physiotherapy. The organisation is also implementing actions to advance the rights of people with disabilities and improve their living conditions.

Since May 2014, Handicap International has been working with internally displaced people in Iraq . People with disabilities and the most vulnerable groups who have taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, are cared for by mobile rehabilitation teams. Depending on their needs, they are provided with mobility aids (crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs, etc.), rehabilitation care, and/or are referred and transported, if necessary, to organisations offering the aid they require.

Handicap International has also been assisting Syrian refugees in the governorate of Erbil. The objective is to ensure that people with disabilities and people considered to be particularly vulnerable have access to humanitarian aid. The mobile teams also distribute mobility aids such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs. Disability and Vulnerability Focal Points (DVFP) ensure that the most vulnerable have access to humanitarian aid, by mapping existing services.

At the end of June 2016, Handicap International implements specific interventions towards people fleeing the ongoing military operations in Mosul.

The organisation continues its public awareness-raising campaigns against the threats posed by the explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices: Handicap International raises the Iraqi people’s awareness through risk education and assists the victims of explosive remnants of war.

In October 2016, more than 130,000 people have already benefited from Handicap International's actions, more than a third of whom have a disability.

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Situation of the country

Iraq has suffered from a succession of political crises, wars, and series of attacks over the last 35 years and the majority of victims are civilians.

Since 1979 when Saddam Hussein took power, Iraq has experienced three murderous wars, a series of bloody repressions including those of the Kurds and Shi'ites, and a trade embargo lasting over ten years. In April 2003, a coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. This third Gulf war ended on the 1st May 2003, but a string of terrorist attacks and political crises ensued. Between March 2003 and January 2012, 250,000 civilians were affected by armed violence.

Iraq is considered to be one of the countries in the world most severely contaminated bylandmines and sub-munitions.

In October 2016, more than 3 million people fled the widespread violence. Most of them found shelter in the northern regions of the country (30% in the sole Iraqi Kurdistan). The first estimations by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees indicate that 40% of these refugees meet the vulnerability criteria and that the health services in these regions have been pushed to the limit in terms of capacity. Handicap International has been working in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 supporting displaced persons with injuries or disabilities. The aim is to meet their specific needs and ensure that they have access to humanitarian aid. The organisation also supports other organisations (NGOs, local and regional authorities) to ensure that the specific needs of people with disabilities and vulnerable people are taken into account in the humanitarian response. 

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