Iraq faces an ongoing humanitarian emergency with 10 million people—nearly a third of the population—in urgent need of assistance. Nearly three and a half million individuals have been forced to flee violence, leaving behind their homes, communities, and all they have ever known in search of safety.
On this edition of Iraq Matters, EPIC Executive Director Erik Gustafson talks with Hala al-Sarraf, one woman who is going to extraordinary measures to help meet the needs of these vulnerable families. Listen as they discuss how Iraqi civil society groups are operating in Iraq’s difficult environment, why local NGOs ought to be empowered and trusted to lead aid efforts, and the critical role that youth volunteers play in shaping Iraq’s humanitarian progress.
Hala al-Sarraf is the founder and director of the Iraq Health Access Organization, a Baghdad-based humanitarian agency. She has partnered with various government agencies and NGOs, including the US Embassy in Baghdad, USAID, the International Organization for Migration, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. She holds an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Fordham University, and completed her Fulbright Fellowship at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health where she earned a Master of Public Health. She initiated Project THINK, a distance-learning forum for Iraqi and US medical students, and is the recipient of numerous accolades for her efforts to provide relief across her native Iraq.
Hala is the MVP of EPIC’s signature Soccer Salam program. She and her team at the Iraq Health Access Organization coordinate the on-the-ground needs identification, delivery of assistance, and follow-up that makes Soccer Salam one of the most cost-effective programs of its kind in Iraq today. We are grateful to work with her and are so pleased to bring you this unique perspective on IRAQ MATTERS.