A Flexible Response for a Protracted Crisis

More and more often the Logistics Cluster works in complex and protracted emergencies requiring a flexible approach to ensure adequate response and support in rapidly changing operational environments.

When activated in Iraq, in July 2014, the Logistics Cluster was supporting the humanitarian community to face a rapid deterioration of public services and access throughout large parts of the country. The support consisted in providing information management and coordination, critical during the initial stage of the response, and in facilitating access to common storage facilities, established in Baghdad, Erbil and Dahuk within three months from the start of the operation.

The following two years saw a spike in insecurity and restricted humanitarian access which hampered the assistance to the more than three million people displaced since January 2014. In October 2016, the military operation to retake the city of Mosul caused the further displacement of one million people over eight months.

To respond to the increased needs of humanitarian organisations for logistics support, the cluster rapidly scaled up, increasing staff and facilitating access to common storage within the camps and closer to distribution points; during the height of the crisis 25,000 m² of storage space over 18 locations were available to humanitarian responders. In addition, in cooperation with the Kurdish Regional Government, a One Stop Shop was established, to simplify and accelerate customs clearance of relief cargo.

During 2017 the humanitarian situation in Iraq has improved and responding organisations have been able to build their capacities, therefore the Logistics Cluster will once again adjust its strategy. In 2018 the cluster will be scaling down common storage in many in-camp locations, and will focus instead on coordination, access to reliable information, and capacity building through logistics trainings and by promoting the loan of Mobile Storage Units for emergency deployment.

The Logistics Cluster strategy is laid out in the Concept of Operations; this is a live document that will continue to be adapted to most effectively support the humanitarian response in Iraq.