Like many internally displaced Iraqis, Mohammed has a harrowing story about his family’s escape from Daesh.
“We walked two days without water and food, not really knowing where to go and whether we would survive,” said the 24-year-old from Sinjar. “There was shooting and fear all around us.”
The United Nations estimates more than 3.3 million Iraqis are displaced internally. The U.N. Development Programme helps thousands of them, including Mohammed, who for safety shares only his first name.
Mohammed participates at the Kurani Ainkawa Multi-Purpose Centre (KAMPC), a UNDP-supported project near Erbil that provides internally displaced people with opportunities to enhance their livelihoods.
KAMPC training programs “provide skills and experience to those who desperately need to sustain their families,” Mohammed said, adding that the center helped him gain “confidence in humanity again.”
North of Erbil near Dohok, displaced Yazidi women learned business management skills and started a bakery with UNDP assistance. Ten women run the bakery, and more than 126 families contribute to and benefit from its success.
Like Mohammed, the women escaped Daesh violence and found stability in their new work. But Beyan (not her real name) said she worries about women still living under Daesh.
“We want the world to do what it can to save these women, our friends and our families, who are still there,” she said.
The arrival of Daesh in Tikrit forced 25-year-old Ayad to close the family’s cafe and flee. After Iraqi government forces last year liberated the city, he returned with his family and benefited from the UNDP cash-for-work program.
The program “enabled me to re-establish my business and helped restart the life of my family,” said Ayad (also not a real name). “Now I can see my community being rebuilt. Hopefully this progress will continue.”
The United States partners with the U.N., the Iraqi government and nongovernmental organizations to help displaced Iraqis in the region. Since 2014, the U.S. government has supplied nearly $624 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, both in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.