The United States and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) are fast responding to the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. This life-saving mission includes the U.S military, the U.S. Food for Peace program and WFP bringing aid to war victims.
The needs are huge. Over one million civilians have been displaced by the rapid onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL).
The U.S. military has airlifted food and water to starving Iraqi Yezidis who are trapped by ISIL on Mount Sinjar. This operation is being coordinated with the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and allies.
As ISIL's forces have rapidly pushed into Northern Iraq more and more civilians are fleeing for their lives. This has been a rapid escalation of this extremist army's advance.
The Iraqi city of Mosul was captured by ISIL in early June, forcing civilians to flee into Iraq's northern region of Kurdistan. But ISIL has followed and is now threatening Erbil City in Kurdistan. This aggression prompted U.S. airstrikes to halt the advance of ISIL into Kurdistan. Iraq's Kurdistan region is hosting Iraqi refugees as well as those who have fled the civil war in Syria.
The U.S Food for Peace program has provided WFP with 15 metric tons of meal replacement bars to feed hungry Iraqis. This food is being distributed in the Dahuk region where many have fled ISIL. These displaced Iraqis include those who managed to escape the Sinjar mountains. The replacement bars provide a day's worth of calories along with 24 vitamins and minerals. The bars are geared for emergency areas where food cannot be prepared and there is an urgent need to stop deadly malnutrition from taking hold.
WFP has also set up field kitchens in Dahuk and other areas to respond to the mass displacement. The UN food agency says, "At least 180,000 people have crossed from areas overrun by ISIL into the Dahuk region." A situation report from WFP states,
To meet the most immediate needs of families moving rapidly from place to place, WFP and its partners have established six field kitchens, four in Dahuk and two in Diyala. Since opening on 4 August, the field kitchen at Khanake in Dahuk alone has provided two hot meals per day to 282,000 people in total. As of 10 August, these six kitchens have served 1,431,220 meals."
WFP has also fed close to 400,000 Iraqis displaced by the assault on Mosul. Funding though is a major issue as WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations. Around US $ 43 million is needed to prevent a pipeline break in supplies.
Iraq is not the only area suffering. As USAID administrator Rajiv Shah says, “For the first time in our history, USAID’s disaster response experts are concurrently managing four large-scale humanitarian responses around the world: Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, and West Africa’s Ebola outbreak."