The humanitarian situation in Iraq is largely a legacy of the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that resulted in millions of Iraqis displaced. Overall,
2.5 million people, including 1.1 million children, continue to need humanitarian assistance, including 960,000 people (422,400 children) with acute humanitarian needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with protracted and multiple displacements, has adversely impacted the access to basic services.
UNICEF’s overall humanitarian strategy is to continue to support the remaining populations in humanitarian need while adopting longer-term durable solutions to meet the needs of children and families as they re-establish their lives in Iraq.
UNICEF is requesting US$52.2 million in 2022 (21 per cent less than in 2021) to meet the critical and acute humanitarian needs of vulnerable children and families affected by a combination of humanitarian situations, including protracted crisis due to conflict, political instability and the COVID-19 situation.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The humanitarian situation in Iraq is largely a legacy of the 2014-2017 conflict with ISIS. As the conflict took hold in Iraq and ISIS gained control over territory, particularly in the west and southwest of Iraq, millions of Iraqis were displaced. As of 31 July 2021, there are 1.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs), while 4.9 million are returnees to 2,156 locations in eight governorates.11 With the abrupt closure of the camps that started in October 2020, the number of in-camp individuals dropped from 256,861 in August 2020 to 182,000 in October 2021, while the outof-camp IDPs reached over 1 million, including 370,000 living in self-settled and informal sites, often widely dispersed and with little access to services. Overall, 2.5 million people,14 including 1.1 million children and 5.6 per cent people with disabilities, continue to need humanitarian assistance. Approximately 960,000 people16 (422,400 children) are considered to be in acute humanitarian need.
In line with the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview, the overall number of people and children in need has decreased compared to 2021. This is due to the reduced humanitarian impact of COVID-19, as well as a rebalancing between humanitarian and development needs, taking into account the recent finalization and signing of the United Nations sustainable development cooperation framework.
An estimated 680,000 IDP and returnee children face obstacles accessing education, such as absence of civil documentation, lack of access to internet or connectivity devices; 660,000 children are in need of child protection services, while 920,000 women and children have needs related to gender-based violence.17 At present, more than 1.6 million people need support for WASH services. In addition, Iraq is anticipated to face severe water scarcity in 2022, including lower groundwater levels and reduced flows in the main rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, which could reach 50 per cent below crisis thresholds. An estimated 15 percent of the children in need (119,000) could be affected by water scarcity.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with protracted and multiple displacements, has adversely impacted access to basic services18 and continues to affect the physical and mental wellbeing and capacity for resilience and recovery of women and children in Iraq, while also exposing them to significant protection concerns. The current situation, added to the existing social and gender norms, has exacerbated conditions for communities and young people, disrupting learning and skills development and participation in society, and fracturing social networks. COVID-19 containment measures have impacted the livelihoods of families, exposing children to increased risks of child labour and child marriage.