The last of eight lorries was loaded on 7 November at the main depot of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid in Wabern near Bern, and left Switzerland the same day. All eight vehicles are now en route for Erbil. Winter, together with the low temperatures, wind and rain that it brings, is approaching. 1.9 million internally displaced people (IDP) are seeking protection in Iraq, 900,000 of them in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north of the country.
The shipment consists of 990 winter family tents, 10 large tents, 990 heaters, 1,240 thermal blankets, 2,120 blankets and 2,000 sleeping mats. Also included in the shipment are 12 steel containers which will be used as storage rooms in the refugee camp. The shipment of aid materials weighs some 125 tonnes and has a value of CHF 1 million. Of this, 105 tonnes are being transported from Switzerland. A second shipment, consisting of tent insulation materials, is being prepared in China and will be transported to Erbil by air.
Two members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit have arrived in Erbil in the last few days. Their task is to organise the reception of the aid goods, their transfer to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, and to monitor their distribution. Two further specialists from the unit are currently in the Erbil region within the framework of the UNHCR commitment. They are assisting the international community and the regional authorities in finding solutions for the high number of internally displaced persons, which is a major burden on the region. For instance, currently around 650 schools in northern Iraq are being used as shelter, and as a result the local children cannot go to school.
At the end of October, the Swiss Federal Council decided to provide a further CHF 20 million to the people in Syria and Iraq who have been affected by the ongoing crisis. This humanitarian contribution by Switzerland is intended, among other things, to help people survive the oncoming winter. The current shipment of aid materials is a first measure.
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