Iraqi hospitality: hosting people displaced by the armed conflict in Anbar

Forty-four-year old Sandus lives with her two children in Baghdad’s neighbourhood of Karkh. The widow, whose husband was killed in an explosion in Baghdad last year, struggles to provide for her 10 and 11-year-old sons. She sells vegetables and fruits in a small street market and relies on help from neighbours and charity from mosques.

Despite her own difficulties and problems, Sandus hosts four other families in her modest house. These families are her relatives, who fled from Fallujah due to heavy fighting and indiscriminate shelling. They do not have any news about their houses or possessions since they left the conflict-torn city. They say most probably everything has been destroyed or looted. The security situation remains very volatile and the families are likely to stay in Baghdad for a prolonged period of time. 

Sandus has exhausted her meager resources, having to cater to four families or 27 guests in her house for a couple of months. Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Iraqi culture and traditions, hence displaced people from Anbar are treated in Sandus’ house as honorable guests, even though the woman-host had to sell her wedding ring and other precious things to provide food for the guests.

Sandus and other families hosting IDPs (internally displaced people) from Anbar came to receive humanitarian aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in western Mansour district of Baghdad. In the recent round, funded by the Republic of Turkey, UNHCR has been distributing core relief item (CRI) kits to 1,800 IDP and host families. Each kit contains six quilts, six mattresses, one stove, one kitchen set, one plastic sheet, one water jerry can, one hygiene kit and one kerosene jerry can. 

The Ambassador of Turkey, Mr. Faruk Kaymakci, who observed the distribution of humanitarian aid in western Mansour, talked to IDPs and expressed his hope that the conflict in Anbar would be resolved, allowing displaced people to return to their homes.

Since January 2014, almost 73,000 families or 440,000 persons have been displaced by the Anbar crisis. UNHCR has provided some 6,500 core relief item kits, in addition to cash assistance and protection counseling to most vulnerable IDPs. The humanitarian community, led by the UN, in close coordination with the Government of Iraq, is striving to provide assistance to IDPs, despite serious security and logistics challenges hampering access to IDP locations, especially in Anbar.  

By Natalia Prokopchuk/UNHCR 

 

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNHCR
Last modified on Monday, 12 May 2014 11:57

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