Inside an Emergency Response

For three years, aid workers had been providing relief to families as they fled from armed groups in Hawiga, Iraq.

For three years, aid workers had been providing relief to families as they fled from armed groups in Hawiga, Iraq.

In 2017, Medair and the humanitarian community were advised that fighting was anticipated in Hawiga, and mass displacement to the surrounding area was likely. We didn’t know when it would happen, but we knew thousands of families would be fleeing the conflict in urgent need of health care, safe water, and critical supplies.


To prepare, we coordinated our response with other agencies, hired and trained more health staff, and pre-positioned teams and supplies, including hygiene kits and latrine construction materials, for rapid front-line relief.

In September, the conflict in Iraq reached Hawiga and tens of thousands of people fled their homes. They walked for up to 12 hours, many in bare feet, over land that was mined with explosive devices. Some needed to swim or wade in the Little Zab river to make it to safety.

At five strategic locations, Medair teams welcomed the fleeing families and provided them with medical care, safe water, sanitation facilities, hygiene supplies and basic shelter kits as needed.


During the intense days of the Hawiga emergency, Medair’s mobile health teams provided more than 1,500 patient consultations and we distributed more than 1,700 hygiene or shelter kits. Our WASH response installed emergency facilities (latrines, showers, elevated water tank), cleaned and desludged latrines, distributed bottled water, trucked in emergency water, and promoted healthy hygiene practices.