Emergency shelter experts ShelterBox have now established a pipeline of aid that will see thousands of tents waiting to help families fleeing war in Mosul. Now the anxious wait begins, for the trickle of escapees that may turn into a flood.
International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has seen its first consignment of emergency tents arrive in the city of Erbil, just 80 kilometres from Mosul. Thousands of lightweight portable family tents will be pre-positioned close to expected distribution points, anticipating the needs of those escaping the city as fighting intensifies.
The first 500 ShelterBox tents have arrived, another 1,500 are expected in coming days, with more to follow. We are expecting this military offensive to last several weeks, if not months. But we don’t know how many civilians will be able to escape Mosul City or when. So we are working with partners preparing aid in order to react quickly as events unfold.
ShelterBox’s Rachel Harvey
In addition to thousands of tents – up to 6,000 are currently committed – ShelterBox has also been working with in-country partner, Paris-based ACTED, to prepare 600 basic kits of essential items such as water carriers, blankets, cooking pots and solar lights for use in camps.
In a later phase 1,000 households displaced to Ninewa and Erbil Governorates will receive similar kits along with robust tarpaulins and fixings to build emergency shelters. These kits will be for families on the move, expected to be outside the already over-subscribed displacement camps.
ACTED has secure warehouses where their logistics teams can store thousands of tents and kits. The ShelterBox tents arriving now are intended for use in ‘emergency camp’ settings – when the main camps are full or while they wait for those camps to be ready.
In whichever directions people flee Mosul, they will face exhausting journeys by foot across a hostile desert landscape. The longer fighting continues over coming weeks, the greater the chances of stormy weather and sub-zero night temperatures. Portable aid to shelter families on the move will be essential.
Rachel adds, ‘Some people have been displaced in the last couple of days as territory is reclaimed by coalition forces. But the majority of people in Mosul city remain trapped.’ No-one knows the actual number of civilians who have lived here under ISIL rule for the last two years, but it is estimated to be over a million, meaning hundreds of thousands may move suddenly into the desert if escape routes open up as a result of military action.
Camps established by the United Nations are likely to be used first, and others are still being prepared. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that intensive efforts are being made to create much needed shelter capacity and to get infrastructure in place for emergency food distribution, water, sanitation, hygiene needs and healthcare.
But it is expected that camps will not be able to meet the need if and when very large numbers begin fleeing the conflict. ShelterBox has planned ahead over months with ACTED. Rachel says, ‘Good coordination will be key to the success of the humanitarian effort.’
NOTES TO EDITORS
- ACTED and ShelterBox have partnered many times before around the world, most recently after the Nepal quakes in 2015 when they sourced shelter materials in country and delivered them to some of the highest-altitude communities on the planet. Both ACTED and ShelterBox are committed to easing suffering after natural disasters, or as a result of conflict. Both observe strict political and religious impartiality.
- ACTED is based in Paris, and provides immediate humanitarian relief to support those in urgent need and protect people’s dignity, while co-creating longer term opportunities for sustainable growth and fulfilling people’s potential. Website www.acted.org
- Photos above are ©ShelterBox, and show boxes of tents arriving in Erbil.