In the year since the end of military operations against ISIL, Iraq has gone through a vitally important and difficult evolution, as the country slowly transitioned from armed conflict to some semblance of normalcy. Throughout 2018, 170 partners reached 2.9 million people out of the 3.4 million targeted (85 per cent) with humanitarian assistance, including 1.3 million children and 1.4 million women and girls.
In 2019, the humanitarian community will require US$701 million to support 1.75 million highly vulnerable people, including a million internally displaced persons, struggling with the legacy of conflict and mass-displacement. If funding is not received, vulnerable Iraqis will be pushed back to undignified and unsafe living conditions, preventing them from transitioning back to a normal life.
“Humanitarian needs in Iraq have evolved since the end of large-scale military operations in late 2017,” said Ayman Gharaibeh, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “We are beginning to see a return to normal life in many parts of the country, but millions still need help to recover after years of conflict and trauma.” The focus of humanitarian operations in Iraq has shifted from providing immediate assistance to those fleeing violence, to a response that addresses the diverse and nuanced needs of vulnerable people in Iraq’s post-conflict transition. Comprehensive assessments and strengthened data analysis identified 6.7 million people as requiring humanitarian assistance in 2019.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan has prioritized 1.75 million people for assistance over the next year. “The most urgent needs are in areas where hostilities have destroyed local infrastructure and led to a breakdown of public services and community cohesion” said Mr. Gharaibeh. “Many communities generously welcomed families displaced during the crisis but are struggling to cope with this added population pressure in the long-term.”
Out of the six million people displaced during the 2014 to 2017 crisis, over four million people have since returned to their homes, while some 1.74 million people remain displaced today. The Plan will guide United Nations agencies and NGO partners in delivering humanitarian aid to 500,000 men, women, and children living in IDP camps; 550,000 displaced Iraqis living in out-of-camp environments; 500,000 returnees; and 200,000 Iraqis who live in vulnerable host communities.
“We expect the need for humanitarian assistance to persist in areas that were most directly impacted by major military operations, ” said Mr. Gharaibeh. “Our clear focus in 2019 is on helping all vulnerable returnees and displaced people resume a normal life in safety and dignity. This also means continuing assistance to displaced people for whom returning to home areas is not an option, until alternative, sustainable solutions can be found.”
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan includes the activities of 94 humanitarian partners, delivering assistance in 30 priority districts across ten Iraqi governorates. In 2018, 2.9 million people were reached with humanitarian assistance in 107 districts. The reduced scope of the response this year, compared to 2018, reflects the changing context and nature of needs in Iraq, and a planned transition from humanitarian relief towards recovery and durable solutions.