Rotary prepares for crisis in Mosul

Published 5:30 pm Friday, October 28, 2016

ShelterBox, Rotary’s project partner for disaster relief, and ACTED, a French nongovernmental aid agency, have teams in the city of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, 53 miles (85 km) east of Mosul. They have been working since July to get aid supplies ready so they can respond quickly as the battle unfolds.

So far, 650 of the 3,000 tents that have been deployed to Irbil have arrived. It is estimated that without the early notice it would have taken ShelterBox at least two and a half weeks to gather these supplies.

Tens of thousands of people have already been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since March. The current round of fighting could last weeks or even months and is certain to raise that number, although it’s unknown just how many people remain in Mosul and in which direction they might flee.

“Our aim is to get aid to displaced families as quickly as possible,” says Rachel Harvey, operations coordinator at ShelterBox, who is in Irbil. “Giving people shelter and essential items such as a solar lamp, blankets, and a water carrier will allow them a degree of dignity and security to rest and recover.”

Existing camps are already near or over capacity, so other possible sites are being readied. But Rotary predicts that demand will almost certainly outpace supply, which could force many families to seek shelter outside managed camps in an inhospitable landscape during a season given to storms and below-freezing overnight temperatures. Just one more way the Rotary Foundation can be counted on to be proactive when human disaster is predictable.