Coronavirus in Iraq – a view from women

On the 5th April, the Iraqi Women’s League (IWL) President in Baghdad sent a letter to the Iraqi President Barham Saleh asking him to intervene to support Iraq’s 2 million divorced and widowed women and 4 million plus orphans – who are need of an urgent lifeline to see them through the period of lockdown.

The letter made a number of specific asks to alleviate the pressures being placed on the most vulnerable in our society. These included calls to:

–       lower the price of electricity and social rent,

–       deliver essential food aid, and

–       support and coordinate efforts with civil society organisations active in this space.

IWL has also made similar representations to International bodies operating in Iraq asking them to redirect and redouble their efforts to supporting the most vulnerable.  

IWL have also redirected our efforts. Our organisation was very active in the protests which began in October 2019 calling for the restoration of democracy, the delivery of basic rights to the people of Iraq – water, electricity, schooling and an end to corrupt and nepotistic practices.

However, the protestors take the public health crisis we are witnessing today incredibly seriously and following the decision of the Iraqi Crises Coordinating Committee (ICCC), protests have been paused. The tented communities remain, but in line with the guidance issued by the ICCC, only two people in the tent at a time to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

Therefore IWL has launched a campaign at the start of March and continues today aiming to confront the issues caused by the pandemic and to support those communities whose livelihoods have been lost due to the movement restrictions. The Iraqi Women’s League is cooperating with local police in targeted effort to help the families of martyrs, widows, orphans and the poor. The humanitarian assistance IWL delivering takes the form of food packages with essential items as well as hygiene products to help families ward against the spread of the virus.

The Iraqi Women’s League has been going door to door with food and hygiene packages for those living on the bread line and in poverty in the towns and villages surrounding Baghdad, whose earnings have dried up as a result of the lockdown to stop the spread of the virus.

The League has been able to mobilise youth groups and other supporters to donate food the same campaign are ongoing by local branches of the League in towns like Najaf and Nasriyah. With police protection the League has been able to deliver these much needed supplies to those in need, most of whom do not receive any social security from Government. This support has been gratefully received by those who have received package and the Women’s League is committed to continuing this work for the duration.

More information about the Iraqi Womens League

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