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Winter brings deadly illness threat to Iraq

23 January 2015

Freezing weather has put people fleeing violence in Iraq at greater risk of deadly illnesses.

More than 2million have left their homes to escape violence, with many people ending up in tents or unfinished buildings. And as temperatures plunge, people are at greater risk of diseases such as flu, pneumonia and throat and lung infections. These illnesses can kill.

Across Iraq, more than 1 million people are living without decent shelter for the winter and basic items such as blankets and kerosene.

Hospitals and clinics are already struggling to meet rising demand, particularly in areas where health workers are in short supply and buildings have been attacked or damaged. In areas of intense fighting, many people have been cut off from health care altogether.

The World Health Organisation has noted a rise in acute throat and lung infections in parts of Iraq, with children younger than five most affected. It said cases are likely to increase in the coming months, putting more children and other vulnerable people at risk.

Red Cross brings help

Ted Tuthill from the British Red Cross said: “The growing risk from these illnesses is another blow for millions of people who have endured so much. They have already been forced to run for their lives, and many struggle to get food or even clean water. Now winter has brought even more problems.”

The British Red Cross has already helped bring blankets to 4,200 families in the regions of Dohuk and Erbil. We are working with our partners to give food, shelter, clean water and health care.


News from Iraq

The Red Cross is supporting the only hospital near Mosul that can treat the wounded and sick fleeing fighting in the area.

As the battle for Mosul in Iraq intensifies, the Red Cross is providing essential aid to around 10,000 people who have fled to nearby camps.