Photo: Archivio COOPI
With these few words one can describe the tragedy of thousands of people – men, women, children, elders – thrown into an armed conflict without fully understanding the reasons, who have spent years seeing their friends and loved ones die, witnessing the destruction of their homes and the material goods that allowed them to have a dignified and serene life.
Now there is only rubble, the danger of unexploded mines, diseases that seemed to have been eradicated for decades and, above all, psychological traumas, unforgettable, with which one has to find a way to live in order to return to one’s normal daily life.
Since 2014, Iraq has been the theater of what has been called one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in recent years.
Approximately 3.1 million refugees are moving within the country’s borders, and in early 2017 there were about 239,000 Syrian refugees.
More than 11 million people are in need of assistance, of which 3.5 million are school-age children.
These high numbers put a strain on the system of primary public services and create socio-economic difficulties for local communities.
COOPI’s international network has been present in Iraq since June 2017 implementing activities in favor of refugees and host communities in Qayyarah, south of Mosul.
In this region of Ninewa , which includes the city of Mosul, completely released by ISIS only in October 2017, live three million people in need of assistance and protection, thereby representing the epicenter of the crisis.
Children are the most vulnerable victims of all and that is why COOPI Suisse carries out emergency education actions: psychological support to reduce the traumatic effects of the conflict on children and encourage the return to primary and secondary formal education, thanks to the reopening of schools in war-devastated areas.
For children, victims of war, forced to live as displaced people for years, returning to their home village can have a further impact on their psycho-physical balance: their homes are destroyed, their old school has collapsed under the rubble, besides that, playing in the areas where they used to do is no longer possible because mines continue to be a big threat, and it will take time to clear the entire area around the village.
Every intervention in areas recently released by ISIS requires time to clear the grounds, risk assessments due to the continuous presence of landmines as well as training sessions that allow the population to assess the risks independantly and return to live in safe conditions.
These interventions are complicated, expensive and above all extremely dangerous.
Specifically, the collaboration between COOPI Suisse and the Herrod Foundation aims to ensure the assembly of 5 tent-schools to encourage and facilitate children’s return to school as well as supporting educational activities, such as the distribution of school kits.
The distribution of school kits is aimed at 200 of the most vulnerable children, between 6 and 13 years, who will attend the tent-schools set up for this specific purpose.
Furthermore, given that the current health and hygiene conditions of the village represent a risk to the health of children and their families, information will be distributed to 1200 beneficiaries, regarding personal and environmental care, preventing the spread of diseases related to hygiene.
Photo: Giovanni Vezzani
Here the school, the heart of the community, becomes a symbol of a new beginning for future generations and hope for a better life. For this reason it is important to intervene: there are many children and teenagers who have already lost more than three school years, and for the older ones the risk of being recruited by armed groups or the possibility of early marriages rises with each day. We thank the Herrod Foundation not only for giving these children a chance to continue their education, but also for responding in terms of physical protection and psychosocial support, thus giving a sense of normality, stability, structure and hope.
Photo: Giovanni Vezzani