26th October 2016


Australian Humanitarians Prepare to Deploy to Iraq

Three Australian women, including two Victorians, will fly to Iraq this week to support preparations for a global humanitarian response following the imminent attack on Mosul.

International humanitarian agency, RedR Australia, is preparing to send the women to Erbil, 80km east of Mosul in northern Iraq, from where they will support the relief effort.

As the Government of Iraq prepares to launch a major offensive on the city of Mosul, the humanitarian community is preparing to respond to the imminent displacement of 1.35 million people expected to flee the city and areas in the southern corridor.

RedR Australia is an international Standby Partner to nine United Nations (UN) agencies. We train and deploy humanitarian experts as part of surge support to our UN partners during international crises.

“Our UN partners are reporting that the humanitarian operation in Mosul is likely to be the single largest, most complex in the world this year,” RedR Australia’s CEO Kirsten Sayers said today.

“We’ve had requests from five of our partner agencies over the past six weeks and are expecting more in the coming month.”

“The humanitarian needs will be enormous. When a crisis happens, life doesn’t stop. Pregnant women still need to give birth. Clean water and sanitation will need to be provided for the displaced along with food. Women and girls will need to be protected.”

“We know our people are well prepared as we recruit and train them but we also know this will be a challenging environment and they could be working up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week in the first phase of the emergency,” she said.

“We are sending three extraordinary women; fly in fly out humanitarians who are specialist first responders in emergencies and the Australian Government is funding us to send two of them.”

Ocean Grove resident, Catriona Heath, 48, will assist in planning and coordinating the humanitarian response to the Mosul attack and will be placed with the UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Melbourne woman Karina Coates, 45, is deploying to the UN Food and Agricultural Office in Erbil as a communications and reporting officer.

Gold Coast woman Debbie Arneman, 57, is an experienced logistics expert and will work with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as a supply officer. She will assist in preparation plans for delivery of emergency relief items.

RedR Australia is a leading international emergency relief agency that provides surge support for United Nations agencies during natural disasters and conflict-induced crises. The agency currently has 24 experts in 17 countries responding to a range of emergencies including famine in Ethiopia and Malawi, the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, the Hurricane in Haiti and the recovery following Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

RedR Australia is an Australian charity and receives funding from public donations and the Australian and UK Governments.

For further information or to interview our CEO or humanitarian experts, please contact Katrina Peach: 03 8341 2666 / 0414 684 664 or email