Category Archives: Iraq Matters Podcast

#28: Displacements Beyond Mosul

On this edition of Iraq Matters, we are pleased to welcome Daryl Grisgraber of Refugees International who recently returned from Iraq. While there, she visited displacement camps in both central and northern Iraq, and met with displaced families, aid agencies, and UN officials to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

#26: Civil Society and Youth Respond to Iraq’s Needs

On this edition of Iraq Matters, we speak with Hala al-Sarraf, one woman who is going to extraordinary measures to help meet the needs of vulnerable families in Iraq. Listen as she discusses 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.

#23: A Trip Report on Iraq’s Displacement Crisis with Refugees International

Since the escalation of armed conflict in Iraq that began with ISIS seizing territory in Anbar in January 2014, 3.2 million people have fled their homes. As Refugees International reports: "They are living in rented accommodations, unfinished buildings, and makeshift camps, often without adequate food, water, or medical care." We talk with Refugees International's Senior Advocate Daryl Grisgraber about her recent mission to Baghdad and her visits to the southern city of Hilla and a hard-to-reach area in Anbar. Get a firsthand account of the crisis, including untold stories of some of the families most affected and of youth volunteers who are responding to their needs. We then share highlights of our recent briefing with Ahmed Ali, including his views on the fight against ISIS, the challenges facing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and the recent unrest in Iraqi Kurdistan.

#22: Giving Voice to the Street Kids and Orphans of Iraq

For years, we've been singing the praises of the Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF). Today we're thrilled to finally share their inspiring story with you. Just days after their most recent mission to Baghdad, we sit down with ICF co-founder Jonathan Webb. After four years of experiencing the war in Iraq up-close and personal, Jonathan returned with a very different vision for Iraq. In 2008, he co-founded ICF to mobilize a life-changing “Surge of Love” for millions of children traumatized by violence in Iraq. Jonathan shares the story of ICF's success in helping orphans and other vulnerable children living on the streets of war-torn Iraq, and what he's learned from partnering with some of Iraq's most extraordinary civil society leaders. Also included, an Iraq update from our EPIC's research team.
Christine van den Toorn
Christine van den Toorn

#21: One Year After the Fall of Sinjar

One year ago this week, ISIS captured the city of Sinjar, the historic home of Iraq's Yazidi community. ISIS massacred hundreds of residents in cold blood and kidnapped thousands of women and children. To learn what has happened to the people of Sinjar since then, we talk with Christine van den Toorn, director of the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Also featured: an Iraq update with our Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor research team.

#20: Under Threat: an Exclusive Report from Iraqi Kurdistan

With the war against ISIS, a worsening fiscal crisis, and the challenge of hosting 1.5 million Iraqis and Syrians displaced by ISIS militants, Cathy Otten of IRIN reports that Iraqi Kurdistan is nearing ‘the breaking point.’ To learn more, EPIC Senior Fellow Ahmed Ali joins us from Erbil in an exclusive interview with the KRG’s Minister of Planning Ali Sindi. We then turn to Joel Wing of “Musings on Iraq” for an update on the latest security and humanitarian developments in Iraq.

#19: OUT IN THE COLD: the Deepening Crisis in Iraq

According to the latest UN estimate, 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq. To discuss that challenge, EPIC convened a distinguished panel with Francois Stamm of ICRC, Michel Gabaudan of Refugees International, Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch, and Nancy Youssef of The Daily Beast. Hosted by the Iraqi Cultural Center on January 16, 2015, the panelists offered insights on the deepening crisis, the opaqueness of the current military campaign, and warnings for the future of international aid in Iraq, as the fight against ISIS and inadequate shelter leaves many Iraqi families out in the cold.

#18: United in Diversity: The Story of Iraq’s Christian Communities

You may have seen it on your social media feed. These days it seems to be appearing everywhere. The Arabic ن (“noon”) symbol has been used by the Islamic State to mark Christian homes and businesses. Now Christians and their supporters, as well as advocates for religious freedom around the world are turning the tables and using it as a symbol of solidarity. Tune in to this episode to hear from Nuri Kino, Juliana Taimoorazy, and Jeff Gardner and learn more about how a global movement is coming together to defend Iraq’s minorities and preserve its rich heritage and cultural diversity.

#17: Winter is Coming

Across Iraq and the region, millions of Iraqis and Syrians fleeing ISIS face another threat: winter. How are governments responding to this fast approaching humanitarian emergency? Can aid agencies move fast enough to provide shelter for so many before the freezing temperatures and heavy rains begin? Daryl Grisgraber of Refugees International stops by our office for an in-depth conversation about the growing crisis and what you can do to help. "Winter is coming" is more than just a warning from the House of Stark. It's a harsh reality that millions of displaced and vulnerable Iraqis and Syrians will soon face.

#16: What You Need to Know About What Happened in Sinjar

You've heard the stories. 10,000s of Yazidis stranded on Mt. Sinjar. The U.S. responding with air drops of aid. Then, the Pentagon declaring the siege over. But what happened in Sinjar? Why were civilians left unprotected without warning as ISIS militants advanced on their city? Is the crisis on the mountaintop over? Tune in for a special Iraq Matters report with Iraq-based researchers Christine van den Toorn and Nawaf, a Yazidi college student whose family fled Sinjar. Also included: an Iraq Update with Musings on Iraq blogger, Joel Wing, and the latest humanitarian developments.

#15: The Changing Landscape of Iraq in Crisis

How is Iraq's deepening crisis changing the landscape of northern Iraq? What happened to the Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul? Will Kurdistan declare independence? To answer these questions we talk with Christine van den Toorn, an American researcher based in Iraq who has witnessed the unfolding crisis. Also featured: updates on PhotoVoice and TentEd and the latest news from Washington, D.C. and Sinjar Mountain.

#14: Can Civil Society Save Iraq?

Since the fall of Baghdad, the international community has invested millions in empowering an active civil society in Iraq. What is the state of that society today? How are community organizations and activists adapting to the fall of Mosul, the mobilization of militias, and other recent developments? What are they doing to advance government accountability, help vulnerable populations, empower youth and protect women’s rights? Tune in as we talk with Sarhang Hamasaeed of the U.S. Institute of Peace.