A Ninawa province network of civilian volunteers has set a goal of collecting and distributing one million loaves of bread to displaced Mosul residents.
More than 150,000 displaced Mosul residents are sheltering in camps near the city set up by the Iraqi government, after fleeing their homes amid the battle to liberate the city from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).
As they await the completion of the military operation and their eventual return to their homes, they face harsh living conditions, including winter weather and a shortage of basic food items.
To help them meet their daily needs, local activists have launched a campaign to collect bread from area residents and distribute it in the displacement camps.
All local residents have been invited to contribute bread they bake or purchase, with the eventual goal of distributing one million loaves.
The initiative is organised by the Network of Civil Society Organisations in Ninawa, a civilian volunteering network, said its media officer, Muhannad al-Awmari.
"The idea aims to involve citizens in the IDPs’ concerns by sharing a loaf of bread with them, with all the high significance bread holds for the Iraqi family," he told Diyaruna.
Al-Awmari said he launched the initiative after he received offers from Iraqis from across the religious and social spectrum to donate bread.
Most donors come from Ninawa province or the adjacent Kurdish region, he said.
Al-Awmari said he arranges with donors a time and place to collect the bread, which is then delivered to the displacement camps by volunteers.
"The bread will be distributed to IDPs in the camps of al-Khazir, Hassan Sham and Jadaa, where dozens of thousands of IDPs are living," he said.
In addition to distributing bread, the network has been involved in other humanitarian initiatives in displacement camps near Mosul, al-Awmari said.
On New Year’s Eve, he said, the network held a party at Hassan Sham camp "where gifts and food were handed out".
The network also has organised basic education classes for children in the camps to prepare them for their eventual return to school, he added.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said that last year it distributed hundreds of thousands of food baskets and in-kind aid in Ninawa displacement camps and liberated areas of Mosul.
"The number of in-kind aid items given to IDPs by the ministry in 2016 included, according to official figures, some 630,000 food baskets containing various essential foodstuffs," ministry co-ordination department director Ali Mohammed Naji told Diyaruna.
But food distribution is just one aspect of the ministry's work in this area, he said, noting that "all IDPs in Mosul have been accommodated in camps prepared in advance and have been provided relief according to the required standards".
Distribution has not been limited to displacement camps but also has included residents in liberated neighbourhoods who chose to stay in their homes, said Muhannad Saleh Abdul Rahim, who oversees the ministry’s technical efforts.
"The ministry is co-ordinating with foodstuff agents in those neighbourhoods to collect ration cards for the families there, and the ministry then sends and distributes aid according to the number of cards," he told Diyaruna.