In Iraq, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Humanity & Inclusion in Iraq
Our team has operated in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, focusing efforts on emergency response initiatives, rehabilitation, and support for Organizations for People with Disabilities (OPDs or DPOs).
Iraqi Kurdistan is largely populated by ethnic Kurds who have sought independence from Iraq for decades. Kurdish rebellions in 1988 and 1991 were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Kurdish semi-autonomous government was formalized.
According to UNHCR, as of December 2018, Iraq hosts nearly 3.1 million displaced Iraqis, making living conditions extremely precarious. Another 260,000 Iraqis are displaced in other regions, in addition to more than 283,000 Syrian refugees currently in the country.
Our Current Work
In addition to addressing the issues that emerged from the fall of Mosul in June 2014, Humanity & Inclusion employs a team of 140 national staff and 25 expatriates in Iraq who work diligently to:
- Respond to emergencies deriving from the Syrian/Iraqi crisis
- Provide rehabilitation services
- Support Organizations for People with Disabilities
- Clear landmines
- Facilitate risk education
Emergency Response: Syrian/Iraqi Crisis
In partnership with the Danish Refugee Council, this project aims to improve access to camp facilitates and the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian relief efforts.
Our team works to effectively:
- Identify needs
- Assess and refer the most vulnerable refugees
- Create income-generating opportunities
- Raise awareness
- Ensure facilities are physically accessible
Humanity & inclusion also works to provide services to internally displaced persons in Iraq, including rehabilitation, and education sessions on the risks posed by unexploded remnants of war.
Fixed and mobile disability teams provide injured and disabled refugees and displaced people with physical therapy, mobility devices, orthoses and prostheses, and psychosocial support.
Support to Organizations for People with Disabilities
Humanity & Inclusion facilitates collaboration between Syrian and Iraqi DPOs and activists in order to ensure all parties are able to play a role in an inclusive democratic transition to the greatest extent possible.
This project includes professional training and other capacity building activities, as well as micro-financing opportunities.
In Iraq, explosive remnants of war pollute the land. Our teams have intervened to make contaminated ground safe to help displaced people return to their villages.
Risk education teams visit displaced people in camps and urban areas to educate them about the dangers posed by explosive remnants of war.
On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, Handicap International is alarmed at the dire situation facing the country's civilians.Read more
Takoma Park, Maryland — On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, Handicap International is alarmed at the dire situation facing the country’s civilians. Nearly 250,000 civilians died or were injured in Iraq between March 2003 and January 2012—equivalent to more than 75 civilian victims every day. During the same period, civilians accounted for nearly 80% of deaths recorded in the country.
The number of small arms circulating within Iraq is on the rise, and very often these weapons fall into the hands of inexperienced civilians. More than half of civilian deaths or injuries since 2003 have been caused by small arms. “The holders of these firearms do not know how to use them properly and they are not given safety training,” explains Sylvie Bouko, Handicap International’s conventional weapons risk reduction technical advisor. “It’s very common, during celebrations, when a lot of people fire into the air, for people to be injured or even killed. This is totally unacceptable.”
The threat from millions of landmines and explosive remnants of war has increased the hardships. After decades of conflict, Iraq is thought to be the world’s most heavily polluted country for landmines and explosive remnants of war. It is likely to take several decades to clear more than 1,700 sq.km of contaminated land. Since 2001, more than 20,000 people have fallen victim to these weapons. Eighty percent of affected areas in the south consist of agricultural land farmed by the country’s poorest people. Without any other means of earning a livelihood, these small farmers put their lives on the line by entering the mined areas.
Handicap International has responded by stepping up its activities in Iraq. The charity has operated in the country since 1991, performing demining, risk education and orthopedic-fitting activities. Handicap International currently trains Iraqi workers to make thousands of people aware of the dangers posed by mines and explosive remnants of war. From April 2013, the charity hopes to add a risk education component to its activities to reduce the number of accidents involving small arms.
“We need the international community to support efforts to secure a far-reaching treaty banning the illicit trade of these arms,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, executive director of Handicap International’s U.S. office. The United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty meets this week in New York, and ends March 28.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 30 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our actions and testimony focus on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization's principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and winner of the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.
Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3531
Molly Feltner, Communications and Marketing Officer
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3528