As conflict in Iraq’s Anbar governorate enters its sixth month, Islamic Relief is continuing to provide vital humanitarian aid to vulnerable families caught up in the crisis.

The western region of Iraq remains in a state of conflict, as government forces clash with armed fighters. Amidst the violence, at least 72,000 families are thought to have fled their homes – with around 21,000 seeking safety in other governorates.

Reports indicate that Fallujah’s hospital has been effectively shut down, with many clinical staff leaving the area. Most of the roads into Fallujah are still closed, adding to the challenges faced by humanitarian organisations such as Islamic Relief, in accessing vulnerable people.

Flooding adds to the crisis

Flooding, which began in April, has seen homes and agricultural land inundated by water. The outskirts of Fallujah and the sub-districts of Al-Naser and Al-Salam in Abu Ghraeb district are severely affected. Local authorities say that over 10,400 houses have been damaged. Over 12,000 students have been affected by the destruction of two schools, and closure of 49 others.

Damage to agricultural land is extensive, and significant numbers of livestock have been killed – fuelling an increase in local food prices.

The flood-affected families have largely been displaced to adjacent sub-districts. Many have lost their financial resources and ability to secure an income. Displaced families are in urgent need of shelter, food, water and sanitation as well as healthcare and a number of basic items.

Those that have returned to their homes face widespread floodwaters and a severe shortage of safe drinking water. Concerns are growing over potential disease outbreaks.

Food parcels and clothing

In partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), Islamic Relief has distributed around 32,500 tonnes of food commodities in the districts of Qaem and Al-Obaidi. Five hundred families received a food parcel packed with essential food items to meet their needs for one month. Items included rice, macaroni, beans and cooking oil – as well as wheat, lentils and salt.

A further project saw 1,100 displaced families in Fallujah city receiving food parcels designed to meet their needs for about 12 days. Local people were employed to support the distribution, giving them an opportunity to generate an income. The families also received around five articles of clothing, with 6,000 articles of clothing distributed in total.

Islamic Relief will shortly begin a further distribution, delivering 2,000 food parcels and hygiene kits to newly displaced families in Anbar, who have not yet been reached by other projects.

No end in sight

Now in its sixth month, the situation in Anbar is evolving into a protracted crisis. With no end yet in sight, the number of people caught up in the conflict continue to increase – and so do their needs. Severe financial restrictions on humanitarian efforts are raising real fears that programmes supporting vulnerable families may soon grind to a halt.

Islamic Relief has joined with other organisations working in the region to call for international support for solutions to end the conflict – as well as increased funding for humanitarian aid to address what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in Iraq since 2006.