Iraq: Administrative Impediments to Humanitarian Access, July 2020

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The administrative restrictions on humanitarian activities and movements in Iraq that began in late November 2019 with the national government’s suspension of the national-level access authorization mechanism for access authorization of non-government organisations (NGOs), remains a largescale, countrywide access impediment for humanitarian operations in Federal Iraq. Its impact has continued to increase over time and has significantly hindered the ability of humanitarian organizations to respond to humanitarian needs. In January 2020, at least 2.2 million Iraqi people in need were conservatively estimated to have been affected by these administrative restrictions on humanitarian movement and activities.

Since the be ginning of the year, OCHA and NCCI have worked with the National Operations Centre (NOC) to establish an adequate mechanism for authorizing NGOs to conduct humanitarian activities in Federal Iraqi areas. However, the process has been slow, and hindered by significant administrative hurdles. From 1 March to 31 June, NCCI and OCHA undertook a pilot project to assist the NOC in establishing a permanent government mechanism for authorizing access to NGOs working in Iraq. During this time, OCHA and NCCI submitted 154 request applications for NOC access letters on behalf of 50 non-government implementing partners of UN agencies. Only 81 per cent were approved by the NOC, and for those that were approved, the process took several weeks, averaging 28 days per application from time of submission until the final NOC access letter approval.

During the month of May 2020, the NCCI Access Unit prepared and sent to OCHA for submission to NOC several batches totaling 77 NGO application requests for access letters. However, despite several attempts by OCHA and the UN Office of Political Affairs to submit the applications, throughout the month of May, the NOC refused to accept receipt citing inadequate capacity to process the submissions.

Ultimately, 57 per cent of all NGO access letter applications did not receive national access authorization by the Joint Operations Command, including 46 per cent that had been approved and issued national access letters by the NOC.
On 3 June, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) met with the NOC General Director to discuss and resolve the administrative hurdles, including the concerns regarding the additional requirements for UN confirmation of NGO status, financial and funding disclosures, and to reach agreement to expedite receipt and processing of NGO access letter submissions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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