UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande visits the Iraq IDP call center in Erbil on March 2, 2016. Photo:OCHA/ Twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi IDP Information Centre, a free hotline for displaced Iraqis across the nation operating in one of the most complex crises in the world, logged its 100,000th call in September since its initial launch in July 2015.
“People call to find a missing loved one, to learn how to register for much-needed assistance, or how to get identification for children born during the conflict,” said Charlotte Lancaster, the Iraq IIC Project Manager in a report published by the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS) on Thursday. “You really never know what the next call will be about.”
The center provides a free hotline that allows displaced persons to access information regarding humanitarian assistance, request assistance, raise complaints and provide feedback on humanitarian response provided by aid agencies.
“The call center has a pivotal role in connecting displaced families with all humanitarian partners. First and foremost, the call center staff is answering a lot of the questions people affected by conflict have; second, it helps us better understand all of their challenges and how we may help,” said World Food Program (WFP) Representative in Iraq, Sally Haydock.
The countrywide, toll-free confidential number allows people living in hard-to-reach areas a safe space to talk and has documented critical protection issues, interventions, initiated assessment missions and coordinated responses.
People have even called to report allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation, other types of abuse as well as fraud. The call center staff refers such calls to the appropriate agencies for response.
“The hotline has provided a vital service for displaced families who often have little or no information about services available and where to turn for help,” said UNHCR Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo. “Getting access to information means people can then make informed decisions to help themselves and their family.”
Information received is shared with humanitarian organizations in order to identify needs of people affected by conflict and improve response to such needs.
“Beyond listening, accountability within the humanitarian sphere is about ensuring that humanitarian response is relevant to the needs of the affected population.” said Bana Kaloti, Regional Director - Middle East. “UNOPS, together with our partners, is proud to be able to contribute to the more efficient and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance in Iraq. More importantly, we are pleased to be able to do our part in helping those most affected by the current crisis.”
The call center was implemented by UNOPS with financial support from several aid organizations along with other UN agencies.
The countrywide toll-free number for assistance is 800-69999.