Humanitarian Crisis: How to Help Refugees in Northern Iraq

When we talk about international disasters, many of us think first of natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons and wildfires. This makes perfect sense; in the last month alone, the world has experienced the devastating effects of disasters including the Yunnan Province earthquake in China, Super Typhoon Rasmassun in the Philippines and severe mudslides in Western India. However, as the current situation in Northern Iraq reminds us, complex humanitarian emergencies require relief from the international community just as natural disasters do. What aid efforts are underway in Northern Iraq and what can YOU do to help?

There are currently tens of thousands of internally displaced people in Northern Iraq following the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) assault on Mount Sinjar and its surrounding areas. Since January alone, an estimated 1.4 million people have been evacuated from their homes due to violence. The more recent surge between August 3rd and 8th has caused as many as 200,000 to flee the affected areas. In response to this humanitarian need, USAID has deployed response experts to key locations and has provided airdrops of NGO-supplied food and water to communities trapped by ISIL.

Since we’d all like to help affected Iraqi families in these tragic circumstances, it’s important to remember that unsolicited material donations can clog supply chains and slow the speed of delivery of critical supplies. Instead, donors can more effectively channel their generosity by sending monetary donations to reputable organizations that are working in Iraq. Cash donations enable aid workers to immediately purchase relief items that are fresh and familiar to disaster-affected people, which can be a huge comfort to those who miss their homes. For this reason among many others, giving cash is a pillar of Smart Compassion.

If you’re looking to make a monetary donation to support relief in Northern Iraq, find a list of trusted and experienced organizations helping on-the-ground here: InterAction, Global Giving, orRelief Web. For all your disaster donations needs in one place, download the Smart Compassion Toolkit.