By Chris Niles
ERBIL, Iraq, 29 October 2013 —Handwashing is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease, and in a crowded refugee camp where families are sharing sanitation facilities it’s especially important.
There are about 100,000 refugees living in camps in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and UNICEF is working to increase awareness of basic hygiene and promote behaviour that lessens the risk of disease.
This year’s handwashing campaign is critical because several cases of Hepatitis A have recently been recorded in the camps.
UNICEF and its partner the Kurdish Reconstruction and Development Society organized events in Arbat camp in Sulimaniyah, Darashakran and Kawergosk camps in Erbil and Domiz camp in Dohuk.
In Kawergosk Iraqi children joined Syrians to celebrate the day and to play together. They attended handwashing demonstrations and were encouraged to go home to their families to show them the correct techniques.
“Today we are organizing a campaign to raise awareness for handwashing day. We educated a number of children and women in the camp on correct habits. We hope these basic principles spread through these children and women to their families and communities,” said Ministry of Environment Health Specialist Sabah Mohammed Latif.
UNICEF is also distributing supplies of soap and plastic containers to refugees and its printed and is distributing information leaflets.