FOREWORD BY THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR
Two-thousand-and-eighteen was a year of transition for Iraq. As the country gradually transformed from a nation gripped by the armed conflict against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to one where normal life was slowly but surely resuming, the humanitarian community in Iraq had to evolve as well. Whereas the response in recent years had been focused on the immediate lifesaving needs of those fleeing ISIL, in 2018, vulnerable Iraqis began to show differentiated needs: those in protracted displacement with no immediate prospects of returning home; those who had returned home but found there was a lack of security or services; and those who wanted to return home but found they could not for a variety of reasons. Humanitarian actors were required to respond accordingly. In parallel, political and ethnosectarian changes were also underway in the country, adding an additional level of uncertainty to humanitarian programming.
The year ahead promises to also be complex, but due to several emerging data sets, the humanitarian community has a better grasp of the challenges which it will face in serving the people of Iraq. Out of an estimated 6.7 million people in need, the humanitarian system will target 1.75 million, a population which includes both incamp and out-of-camp IDPs, returnees, and vulnerable host communities. We will seek $701 million to carry out operations falling under three Strategic Objectives: (1) post-conflict transition towards durable solutions; (2) ensuring the centrality of protection; and (3) strengthening contingency planning and preparedness. Iraq’s approximately 1.8 million remaining internally displaced persons must be presented with options beyond life in an IDP camp, and the international community—in partnership with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government—must begin preparing for this eventuality. However, it is becoming more obvious each day that certain groups will need extra support if they are ever to make the transition back to their communities—among these groups, families with perceived affiliations to extremist organizations are among the most vulnerable. All of this will be implemented in a country that is prone to a daunting set of environmental challenges and natural hazards, including floods, earthquakes and droughts. Humanitarians and their government counterparts must undertake collective preparedness and contingency planning to meet identifiable risks which could impact the realization of our humanitarian mandate.
As the overall number of IDPs in Iraq continued to decrease during 2018—from an overall high of 6 million at the height of the conflict to an estimated 1.8 million now—the closure and consolidation of IDP camps became an operational priority for both the government and the United Nations. The humanitarian community has an obligation to ensure that minimum standards are maintained, and camps with poor infrastructure in remote locations which host a limited number of families are not efficient or effective at serving the needs of IDPs. Thus, camp consolidation and the transfer of IDPs to larger camps with better service provision—including medical services, schools and improved security arrangements—is one of the goals of humanitarian actors in Iraq in 2019. However, in keeping with the Strategic Objective of ensuring the centrality of protection, the UN will continue to advocate that all such activities are safe, dignified, informed, voluntary and sustainable.
It is a privilege to be serving here in Iraq when the country is at a critical crossroads. Together with United Nations agencies, NGO partners and government counterparts, I will renew my dedication to ensuring that vulnerable Iraqis are able to access the assistance they need to continue rebuilding their lives.
Ms. Marta Ruedas
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.