Psychological Support Action Against Hunger
Since the beginning of the military intervention aimed at ousting the Islamic State from Mosul and its surrounding areas a month ago, more than 56,000 people have fled. Most of them have found refuge in camps but had to go on a dangerous journey to reach safe areas. Photo: © Emilien Urbano / Agence Myop


  • Tens of thousands of Iraqi families have fled Mosul and surrounding areas following the launch of a military offensive to retake the city from ISIS on October 17th.
  • Up to 1.5 million civilians could be impacted by the military operations, sparking serious concerns of a massive humanitarian crisis.
  • Action Against Hunger has scaled up our humanitarian response in Iraq and we have a full team dedicated to respond to the needs of newly displaced families in camp- and non-camp settings through interventions focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene; mental health care practices; and food security.
  • By the numbers:
    • 59,000 people have already fled Mosul
    • 25,000 people have benefited from our support since October 17th
    • 6,200 people have received our mental health support since October 17th
    • 130,000+ gallons of water are distributed daily in Khazir camp


Families who have fled Mosul since military operations began a month ago are receiving psychological support, including counseling, in a bid to ease the trauma they have experienced.

Since military operations to retake Mosul began nearly a month ago, Action Against Hunger has helped more than 17,000 people who fled the city and its surroundings.

In Khazir and Zelikan camps, our team is providing psychological and social support to the most vulnerable.

“People fleeing Mosul and its surroundings arrive in the camps in a state of great distress, given what they have experienced for two years and the recent fighting and displacement,” says Malourène Cordier, Emergency Coordinator in Iraq. “It is important to reassure them as soon as they arrive.”

Our ‘psychosocial’ team go from tent to tent comforting new arrivals, providing them with basic information about the services available in the camp and listening to them. These “psychological first aid” (PFA) sessions also offer an important opportunity for team members to identify people who require specific psychological support. They can then take part in group sessions or individual appointments with a psychologist.

Our preliminary assessments into the psychological needs of people in Zelikan and Khazir camps have revealed significant needs. More than 70 percent of respondents described themselves as in great suffering, despite more than half (58 percent) considering themselves safe in the camp.

“These figures aren’t surprising,” says Ms. Cordier. “Many people, including children, had to flee at night. They saw corpses on their journey, as bombs continued to fall, and they are now in an unknown environment.”


In less than a week, more than 1,500 families have arrived at the camp, bringing its population to nearly 20,000 people. To reduce the likelihood of displaced children becoming severely malnourished, we are ensuring there are appropriate sanitation facilities and a clean and ample water supply.

We are responsible for all water, sanititation and hygiene activities in Khazir camp, so every day our staff deliver more than 130,000 gallons of water to the camp’s growing population. We have already distributed 1,450 emergency kits, including jerry cans, thermoses, jugs, bins, and trash bags.

“New families arrive daily,” explains Yves Bertrand, emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene program manager in Iraq. “On Tuesday, more than 500 new families arrived. We must be very responsive so that they have water available.”

Despite the best efforts of aid groups on the ground, people who recently arrived at the camp are worried.

Ali, a 26-year-old man from Gogjali, told the Action Against Hunger team: “I feel safer since I reached the camp, but at the same time I’m worried. It will be cold soon, maybe it will rain, and we don’t know how long we’ll stay here.”


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