Editor's note: This story was updated August 29, 2016 to reflect the latest information.
At least 135,000 have fled violence in central Iraq and are in need of food, water and other basic essentials as they cope with blistering summer heat.
The massive movement of people comes as forces advance on the city of Mosul, an ISIS stronghold. More people are expected to flee their homes in the coming weeks, threatening to create a new refugee crisis in the Middle East.
“The journey is dangerous; families leave extreme conflict and are exposed to temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit)," says Su'ad Jarbawi, Mercy Corps’ country director in Iraq. "They lack access to water, food and other basic essentials. When they reach safety, there is limited support in host communities already overstretched by the ongoing conflict.
"I have been working for Mercy Corps for 13 years, and spent a lot of that time on the SRGE team that responds to humanitarian emergencies," Jarbawi says. "Never before have I seen sandals listed as a top need. People are wearing out their shoes as they flee for safety."
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that up to 1.5 million will be impacted once military forces reach Mosul.
Mercy Corps is providing displaced families with cash assistance so they can purchase what they need most once they reach safety.
“We believe cash distributions are the most rapid, efficient and dignified manner of providing humanitarian aid,” Jarbawi says. “Even a small amount of cash lets people choose how they prioritize their individual needs – and this kind of program infuses cash into the local economy.”
“We are working hard to mobilize our network of local partners and Iraqi youth volunteers as quickly as possible to meet the needs of those escaping the violence and looking to build better lives,” she added.
How you can help
Mercy Corps has been helping people in need in Iraq since 2003, and since then has provided assistance to 5 million Iraqis affected by war, violence and displacement in all 18 governorates. Mercy Corps is currently addressing the needs of conflict-affected populations, including displaced Iraqi civilians, refugees from Syria and Iraqi host communities.
Your support makes our response to emergencies in Iraq and elsewhere in the world possible. Please give today to our Humanitarian Response Fund.