Summer heat: Yet another challenge to Iraqi IDPs

Mosul IDPs at a refugee camp in Hamam Alil town, south of Mosul. Photo: AFP

MOSUL, Iraq — With temperatures already topping 37°C (99°F) and rising, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have survived ISIS now face new challenges to combat the looming summer heat.

As reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says there are currently 52,000 displaced Iraqis living at the Qayara emergency site, formerly the Qayara airstrip south of Mosul. The soaring heat is already affecting health and living conditions of the individuals living there after fleeing war-torn Mosul and surrounding areas.

Residents at the site currently live in PVC tents which work well in winter months to retain heat but are intolerable in summer months as temperatures inside are at least 10°C (50°F) higher inside than outside.

“We are now sleeping outdoors to keep cool,” said Abu Omar, a displaced individual at the site. “It is literally impossible to bear the heat inside the tent.”

Temperatures will continue to rise starting from June and are expected to reach at least 50°C (122°F) and above throughout the summer months in Iraq’s Nineveh province.

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has reported that there are now over 3 million people displaced across Iraq.

The supplementary mini kits provided by IOM include summer bed linens, battery rechargeable fans which can run an extra 4 hours when power goes down as well as 40 liter capacity water coolers.

Since the end of March, over 5,400 such kits have already been distributed among IDP families coming in from west Mosul.

However, the use of water coolers is problematic, even with limited electricity. They require between 100 and 160 liters of water to operate daily. The recommended ration of water per person each day is only 15 liters for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

Health conditions are also causing concern within the camps.

Scabies is currently on the rise, mostly from neighboring camps and those residents are seeking treatment from primary health centers located in Qayara and Haj Ali camps.

The colds and flus from winter months have already been replaced by dehydration and diarrhea, especially among children. Health teams are now in need of different medications to treat such ailments.

“Children may become dehydrated as they play outdoors or forget to drink enough water,” explained IOM’s Dr. Ahmad al Shafei. “Sanitation issues also contribute to diarrhea amongst children.”

“We are keeping the children indoors as much as we can during daytime to prevent them from playing in the sun and getting dehydrated,” resident of Qayara, Thear said. “But you cannot coop children indoors for too long either.”Thear recently spent two days at the Médecins sans Frontières hospital with his six-month-old son who had acute dehydration. He and his family, as well as many other residents sleep outside at night to escape the suffocating heat inside the tent.

IOM has identified over 370,000 IDPs currently displaced due to ongoing military operations within west Mosul and the number is expected to rise.