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UNHCR Protection Officer, Gemma Woods, meets with Iraqi IDPs at their temporary accommodation. Gemma assesses IDPs for unconditional cash assistance in the areas around Erbil, as well as ensuring they are able to access their rights, whether legal or in relation to access to movement, births, children, or women at risk. She works on these issues with the community, government and security forces. She says: 'I see that the cash assistance programme gives IDPs a certain amount of breathing space in the initial months of their displacement, at a time when vulnerabilities are most pronounced,' says Gemma. 'We have spoken with many IDPs who were able to avoid eviction from the basic shelter they had been able to find because of cash assistance, who were able to pay for medicines for chronic medical conditions which they were unable to cope without. Now that winter is here, many IDPs have been able to prepare themselves with the cash assistance by buying winter clothes, making improvements to shelters and purchasing kerosene. Without the cushion of cash assistance, many report that they would have had to make a choice between buying food or keeping warm. The fact that they are able to choose how to spend the money on what they consider to be their greatest need at that time also affords IDPs a level of dignity which they report is greater than if they receive in-kind assistance (blankets, etc). However, the greatest wish of the IDP community is to become self-sufficient and to be able to provide for themselves and their families through work.'