Improved housing, access to education, provision of food and healthcare - over the last few months, life in the refugee centres in Ankawa has been improving. We have been pleased to be a part of that, and thanks go to everyone who has helped with our projects.
But the situation on the ground is changing. As we have mentioned over the last year, the prospect of military activity increasing in the attempts by the Iraqi government to retake Mosul from Da'esh (IS, ISIL, ISIS) will cause a new inflow of refugees to the Kurdish region. This advance has now started and the refugee numbers are once again on the rise.
The UN is preparing for up to 1 million more refugees to enter the region already hosting nearly double that number in camps, centres and makeshift accommodation.
There is a good article here that talks about the issues the new military offensive is causing.
For us, the need to act becomes more urgent as UN and Government money becomes stretched. We will be reviewing our work following the success of the mobile classroom to see how best we can support people in the year ahead.
One thing is certain: after a year of improvement, the situation is now likely to get worse before it gets better.
PLEASE NOTE: We use the term refugee in this context to refer to all displaced people. There is a discrepancy here. The internationally recognised legal definition of most of the displaced people in Iraq is 'Internally Displaced People' (IDPs), people displaced but remaining within their own country, as opposed to refugees who are outside their country of origin. This is a nuance that we don't use when talking about the situation in a news sense, especially as we work with both refugees and IDPs. However, it does affect the way aid is distributed and the urgency with which the international agencies respond. Either way, these people have lost everything and are in need of help. We think the distinction for our work is unhelpful, and detracts from the call to help all people, whatever their status.