CARE in Iraq: Helping women and families rebuild their lives

Sawsan with her youngest child

CARE is providing long-term help to thousands of women struggling to raise their families after years of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Sawsan (pictured above), aged 33 and mother of four children, has just returned to her home village of Bashiqa, 15 km from Mosul, having fled from the fighting several years ago. Almost 12,000 people from different religious backgrounds – Christian, Muslim, Yazidi – used to live in Bashiqa. Families are now starting to return, to find their houses either damaged or destroyed. “My parents’ house was burnt down, they are left with nothing,” Sawsan says.

Damaged buildings in Bashiqa, Iraq
Damaged buildings in Bashiqa

Sawsan has been able to return to her home – but now, she says, “We live here together with five other families.” Space is limited, privacy restricted, and there is no running water or electricity. CARE and our local partner organisation Ausra al Iraqi are providing clean water and essential items like blankets, mattresses, lights, hygiene items, kitchen items, tarpaulins and winter clothes.

People queuing for a CARE distribution in Bashiqa, Iraq
People queuing for a CARE package distribution in Bashiqa, Iraq
CARE packages awaiting distribution in Bashiqa, Iraq
CARE packages of essential household items awaiting distribution to families in Bashiqa
A woman and her daughter with CARE packages
A woman and her daughter with CARE packages in Bashiqa

The majority of displaced people in Iraq are women and children, and access to health services – particularly for pregnant women and mothers – is a particular concern. In Zumaar, with our local partner organisation Harikar, we are rehabilitating a health centre. We are also providing hygiene kits and maternal health advice.

Hygiene kit distribution to mothers in Iraq
Women at a maternal health clinic in Zumaar with a family hygiene kit
Health advice at a maternal health session
A woman talking to a CARE health adviser at the maternal health clinic
A woman and child in Iraq
Amina Khalid, mother of nine children, with her youngest child

CARE also plays a crucial role in four camps for internally displaced people in Northern Iraq, including a camp at Chamisku (near the city of Zakho) which hosts more than 26,000 people, most of them Yazidi families who fled persecution in Sinjar province in 2014.

A child stands beside tents at Chamisku camp, Iraq
A young girl stands beside tent homes at Chamisku camp
A woman and her children inside a tent at Chamisku camp, Iraq
Suham Shivan with her children in her tent at Chamisku camp

CARE has been working in Chamisku since 2015, where we help provide safe water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene kits and support (including organising waste management for the camp).

Men digging a hole at Chamisku camp
CARE staff working on new sanitation facilities at Chamisku camp

For many residents, the camp has become their home. Fatima and her family long to return to Sinjar – but meanwhile, they are making their surroundings as pleasant as they can.

Fatima inside her tent home at Chamisku camp
Fatima inside her tent home at Chamisku camp

“We used to have a beautiful garden and a gorgeous house in Sinjar,” Fatima (pictured above) says with a smile on her face. “We would like to at least live in a nice environment in the camp. We cannot survive without flowers.”

Fatima and family beside her flower garden
Fatima and family outside their tent

CARE in Iraq

CARE is seeking to expand our humanitarian response in Iraq to save lives and meet the urgent humanitarian needs of women, men, boys and girls affected by sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria. Through our humanitarian initiatives, CARE will promote the empowerment of women and inclusive governance in the communities we support, and increase the resilience of displaced and host communities. Our target is to meet the needs of 250,000 people in need by 2018; this is approximately 8% of the estimated 3.2 million people currently displaced in Iraq. Our humanitarian response includes:

  • improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and services
  • improving access to emergency shelter and to essential household items such as blankets, mattresses and cooking items
  • improving access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • improving protection from sexual and gender-based violence
  • supporting people to rebuild livelihoods

Read more in our factsheet:

CARE in Iraq: Factsheet April 2017

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.