Keeping children warm for winter in Iraq

Rafi, 3, sits on a box of winter clothing in Kawergosk refugee camp. © UNICEF/UN042749/Khuzaie

As temperatures drop across Iraq, UNICEF is undertaking a $US 11 million ‘winterization’ campaign to protect vulnerable displaced and refugee children from the cold.

So far 38,000 children have received winter kits in Sulymaniyah, Ninewa, Erbil and Dohuk governorates. In addition, 400 pregnant mothers recieved infant clothing to ensure that babies are born in the middle of the winter are protected from the elements.

Displaced children on Sinjar mountain carry boxes of warm clothes. © UNICEF/UN042751/Hayder

Winter clothing distribtions began on Sinjar mountain in November, where nearly 7,000 clothing kits were distributed before temperatures on the mountain plunged.

In early December, 568 children in Kavrij, a recently-retaken village near the frontline in Tilkayf, recieved winter clothing. © UNICEF Iraq/2016/Hayder

The children’s clothing kit consists of winter jackets, woollen sweaters, thermal underwear, warm winter trousers, as well as a hat and scarf, socks, winter boots, gloves, and rain coat.

This year the campaign is focused on reaching displaced children aged between three months and 14 years living in makeshift tents and abandoned or unfinished buildings. UNICEF is making special efforts to reach children fleeing conflict in the Mosul corridor. In the past week two distributions took place reaching 2,253 children who fled Mosul and took shelter in a mosque in the recently-retaken village of Fadhiliya.

Girls taking shelter in Fadiliya mosque receive boxes of winter clothing. © UNICEF Iraq/2016/Hayder

More than 4,000 kits have been distributed to Syrian refugees in Kawergosk camp, near Erbil, as well as other refugee camps in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

In the coming days UNICEF will launch an innovative e-voucher system in three camps which will enable 10,000 displaced families to buy winter clothes for 35,000 children.

With generous support from the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian (DG ECHO), the Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and the Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), United States Fund for UNICEF, UNICEF aims to provide 300,000 children with warm winter clothing and to distribute 35,000 blankets this winter. UNICEF urgently requires an additional $3.5 million to achieve this target.

For direct donations to UNICEF in Iraq: