COVID-19 Context - Iraq - Overview of the humanitarian situation and the impact of COVID-19


While Iraq has started to slowly recover from the several waves of conflict that the country has experienced in the past decades, COVID-19 and its social and economic impact has exposed people to new risks, perpetuated existing vulnerabilities and has put additional strain on an already fragile public sector. With petroleum accounting for 92% of the country’s exports, declining oil prices have plummeted the country into a financial and economic crisis, with the World Bank projecting a contraction of the Iraqi GDP of 9.7% in 2020.1,2 While the Iraqi government has been struggling to pay the salaries of the country’s six million public sector employees, millions of others working in the private and informal sector have lost their employment and livelihoods as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
UNICEF and the World Bank are estimating that an additional 4.5 million Iraqis will be pushed below the poverty line in 2020.

With an increase in the unemployment and poverty rates, humanitarian needs across various sectors and population groups are expected to increase drastically in 2020, imposing further hardship on the country’s 2.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 4.8 million returnees.

As the first nationwide household-level assessment following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iraq, the Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment (MCNA) VIII is well placed to provide context to the current humanitarian situation and the impact of COVID-19. In conjunction with the MCNA VIII dataset and findings, this factsheet aims to provide a evidence base for the humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis in Iraq. The factsheet presents secondary data as well as MCNA VIII findings across various sectors that have been impacted by COVID-19 or by the measures that the government has implemented to contain the spread of the virus.