In response to the influx of displaced Iraqis into Kurdistan following the advance of ISIS, Handicap International launched an emergency response to ensure that people with disabilities, the injured, and other at-risk individuals can access essential aid and services. Handicap International plans to provide aid to 1,500 people in the districts of Dohuk and Erbil by mid-September. The organization has been present in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991.
“When tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people need food, shelter, and care, people with disabilities and older people need even more support because they can’t move around very easily and go out in search of assistance,” says Benedetta Di Cintio, Handicap International’s head of mission in Iraq.
Di Cintio recently spent several days visiting displaced people to determine the scope of their needs. “I came across sick people whose lives were in danger simply because they couldn’t get access treatment available just a few kilometers from where they were,” says Cintio. “I met people who were taking refuge in a school, who, just a few days before, had still been living normal lives. Among them was a little girl with epilepsy who needed medical treatment. Her mother told me that she had run out of medication and couldn’t buy any more where they were. In some of the villages where we spent the last few days, several groups of displaced people told us that they hadn’t come in contact with any aid organizations up until now.”