As an organization serving Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis in northern Iraq, Women for Women International is deeply concerned about increased conflict in the region, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Civilians have already died, and more civilians’ lives are at risk with many also facing the threat of further displacement.
The Syrian people have suffered enough, and Iraq is already sheltering over a million refugees and displaced people. 245,000 of those refugees fled Syria into northern Iraq – and the sudden change in policy threatens an escalation in conflict that could lead to hundreds of thousands more people driven from their homes into displacement.
Women for Women International’s Country Director in Iraq, Aram Shakerm, says:
“With winter approaching, risks to displaced families – and especially women – will be extremely high. Existing communities in northern Iraq have been supporting refugees of the conflict, but with 245,000 current refugees just here in northern Iraq, the host community is reaching its limit. The resources and ability to support more people is depleting.”
Destabilization in Syria creates a security risk, as communities along the border shoulder the conflict, while opening the door for ISIS to reemerge and commit more horrors like the 2014 Sinjar Massacre, a genocidal act targeting Yezidi people.
“Women for Women International opened offices in Erbil specifically to support women survivors of war and conflict,” says Laurie Adams, CEO of Women for Women International. “Many of these women, including Syrian refugees and Yezidis, have already experienced enough horrors. They’ve lost their homes and suffered physical and sexual violence at the hands of ISIS. These developments threaten to bring more risk, harm, and terror to women refugees, on top of the trauma and poverty they already experience.”
“We ask that the international community join us in supporting women survivors and refugees in northern Iraq and to keep the people of this region at the front of our hearts.”