Humanitarian briefing on the crisis in Iraq


Iraq's humanitarian emergency requires immediate recognition and support. Above all, it is fundamentally rooted in a protection and human rights crisis, which together are fuelling a climate of lawlessness and impunity with profound consequences for innocent civilians. Indeed, the sheer scale of violence directed against Iraqi civilians is unparalleled to any other emergency in the world today. The provision of basic social services has been severely compromised by insecurity, population movements, brain-drain, and an incremental breakdown of public service infrastructure and systems. Furthermore, families and communities continue to be fractured by conflict and the politics of identity. The sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation over the past few years has yielded a number of devastating indicators: 2 million Iraqis are now estimated to have fled the country; and nearly 1.9 million are estimated to be internally displaced persons (IDPs), of which about 800,000 individuals have been uprooted since February 2006. This means that almost one in six Iraqis is now living in displacement. An estimated 4 million are also considered to be acutely food insecure and entirely dependent on a fledgling public distribution system (PDS) for their basic nutritional requirements, while another 8 million are under threat of becoming food insecure should the ration system completely collapse. Escalating violence and human rights violations, compounded by a diminishing ability to meet basic needs and to absorb any further shocks, are pushing already vulnerable Iraqis into a crisis of survival. This situation can only be addressed through a concerted effort by all concerned parties to support an empowered role for the UN to act as a neutral mediator based on humanitarian imperatives and to re-establish the conditions for humanitarian space so that the government and people of Iraq can be assisted in averting a full-scale humanitarian disaster.