Vulnerable to exploitation, harassment and gender-based violence, conflict-affected women in Iraq face significant risks, say Islamic Relief aid workers.

Iraq is being torn apart by conflict. People from all walks of life have been affected. It is a dangerous place for everyone, and especially so for women. Over two million households in Iraq today are headed by women. For many families, the loss of a male breadwinner is catastrophic. Often, they are left with no income and are forced to rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

A displaced teacher talks to Islamic Relief.

A displaced teacher talks to Islamic Relief.

Displaced women are at risk of exploitation and harassment, particularly in the camps – where they struggle to have their basic needs met and to secure much-needed privacy. They may also encounter gender-based violence and even expectant mothers have only poor access to healthcare.

As Islamic Relief’s ROTA team in Iraq, our focus is on changing lives through education and on supporting aid distributions. Our work brings us into close contact with women, internally displaced people, children and teachers – and we often encounter heartbreaking stories.

We met a Syrian woman in Al Qaim camp. Fleeing the brutal war in Syria, on arriving at the camp, she was told that her husband was not allowed entry because of his Iraqi nationality. Recognising her desperate need to keep the family together, she was targeted for sexual exploitation.

A displaced woman in Erbil receives food and hygiene items.

A displaced woman in Erbil receives food and hygiene items.

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In need of hope for the future

Islamic Relief is doing all it can to help. We have provided food parcels and hygiene kits, baby milk and diapers, blankets and heaters. Last year alone, our multi-million dollar programme reached some 378,000 internally displaced Muslims, Christians, and Yezidis across Iraq.

But with no end to the conflict in sight, women in Iraq need much more. They are in urgent need of better access to protection and healthcare, as well as safe spaces for their children to learn and play. Most of all, they need hope for the future. They want an end to the violence, and they want to go home.

Support our lifesaving work for those caught up in conflict. Donate to our Iraq emergency appeal today.

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