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Floods and landslides drench parched area of northern Iraq

24-01-2010 Feature

As winter set in at the end of 2009, many villages in the northern parts of Erbil governorate were hit unexpectedly by heavy rains that lasted for hours, leaving behind floods and landslides. Saleh Issa Hassan's household was one of 160 families (1,000 people) affected in the region. The ICRC stepped in to lend help to the victims of the flood.

   

©ICRC 
 
Mr Saleh talks with an ICRC delegate 
     

With a bitter smile, 75-year-old Saleh Issa Hassan, was sifting through what was left of his house in Mergasur district, where he lived with his family of seven. He repeated to himself: " We were praying for rain, but this time, rain came with a lot of troubles and destruction. "

For Saleh, the area he lived in had never seen a flood like the one that hit Erbil at the end of last year. He asserted that neither he, nor his father, had ever seen such a flood, which destroyed everything.

Saleh's family house was partially destroyed, while their property and b elongings were flushed away by the flood and mudslide. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Rain was falling heavily and ceaselessly. Saleh suddenly heard an extremely loud sound. When he was able to get out to see what happened, he found that part of the courtyard wall was destroyed and washed away by the flood.

Saleh and his family, as well as other families affected by the flood, decided to leave their homes for safer areas. They found kind hands from other villagers who accommodated them and helped in getting women and children to safety. " Without this help, we couldn't have survived, " Saleh affirms.

Moreover, the villagers provided Saleh and his family, as well as other affected families, with food and blankets.

The ICRC provided Saleh and other villagers with essential items to help them cope with the situation. Saleh is grateful to the ICRC for reaching them and offering its assistance so quickly.

Nevertheless, the situation remains dire for this old man and his fellow villagers. They are afraid the floods will return if heavy rains fall once again. What would become of them then? " It was just the beginning. We are scared of what happened. With every drop of rain my heart beat harder. I don't want this to happen again, " says Saleh.

 

 
  ICRC assistance to families affected by the flood

  As a result of the flood, houses were destroyed and families lost their property. Water storage facilities were washed away, along with food, educational materials, farms, and livestock. Some schools, water and power networks were also damaged, while roads and bridges were blocked, which made it difficult to access remote areas hit by the flood.

  The ICRC provided assistance to people affected by these floods in the villages of Erbil and Ninewa governorates. It offered emergency assistance including food, hygiene kits, and essential household items to 116 families from Goratoo, and 40 families from Piran. It also provided assistance to 25 affected families from the Misirik area of Sumeil district (Dohuk governorate).

  Household items provided by the ICRC to people affected by the flood included tarpaulins, buckets, kitchen sets, thermoses and jerrycans, in addition to food rations and hygiene items.