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Iraq: UN concerned about reduced humanitarian access

16 Jan 2020

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16 September 2019, Qayarrah sub-district, Mosul district, Ninewa, Iraq. A family sets up their belongings in Jad’ah 5 camp after moving from Haj Ali, a nearby camp that was closed. Credit: OCHA/Yvette Crafti

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Marta Ruedas, expressed her strong concern today regarding the suspension in granting access letters to humanitarian actors in the country.

As of the first week of January 2020, access letters for almost all humanitarian actors carrying out critical missions in support of Iraq’s vulnerable people had expired, and no new authorizations have been issued. Aid deliveries throughout Iraq slowed considerably since November 2019, due to the discontinuation of previously agreed-upon access authorization procedures, and the absence of viable alternative mechanisms.

Humanitarian operations in Iraq may come to a complete halt within a matter of weeks if humanitarian partners are not allowed to immediately resume full, unimpeded movement of their personnel and supplies. Hundreds of thousands of people across the most conflict-affected areas face going without food, medicine and winterization materials during the coldest months of the year.

Ms. Ruedas warned that “without predictable, continual access authorization, humanitarian aid is in danger of rotting in warehouses, putting lives in jeopardy and wasting badly-needed donor funds.”

It is estimated that approximately 2.4 million people in need have been affected by the restrictions on humanitarian movements. More than 2,460 humanitarian missions have been cancelled or prevented from reaching their destinations since the start of December 2019.

During 2019, the humanitarian community in Iraq reached more than 1 million internally displaced persons, returnees and poor host communities in need with assistance. More than 100 partners carried out operations in over 1,300 locations throughout northern and central Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In 2020, the humanitarian community seeks $520 million to continue its vital work in Iraq.