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Iraq: In Saddam’s Former Jail, Cash Brings Relief to Syrian Refugees

Iraq is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with 11 million people—nearly one-third of its population—in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. As Iraqi forces are battling Islamic State militants in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, desperate families continue to flee into Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region from war-torn Syria. All told, almost two million people have poured into Kurdistan, overwhelming a region already strained by tumbling oil prices and a severe economic slump.

In response, EU Humanitarian Aid and its partner World Food Program (WFP) last year launched a programme that distributes cash rather than food or other goods, to displaced Iraqis as well as Syrian refugees. The programme provides people with the flexibility to purchase according to their needs, while investing back into the local economy.

Photos and text by Peter Biro, Regional Information Officer, EU Humanitarian Aid.

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