COVID-19-related movement restrictions hamper relief operations across Iraq
Access constraints, including COVID-19 and GoI authorization restrictions, affect more than 1 million people in need during March
USAID/FFP partner WFP provides emergency food assistance to more than 378,000 people in February
Following the late-November Government of Iraq (GoI) suspension of monthly national non-governmental organization (NGO) access authorizations, many relief actors remain unable to fully implement life-saving programs in Federal Iraq, the UN reports. As of early May, approximately 10 organizations were awaiting national access letter approval from the GoI, according to the UN.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reports more than 2,500 confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and 102 associated deaths in Iraq as of May 8. Cases in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region have spiked since the easing of COVID-19-related movement restrictions, with 52 cases confirmed between April 22 and May 6, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Meanwhile, prevention measures— including border closures and movement restrictions—have impeded relief operations. Uneven application of humanitarian exemptions from most movement restrictions has prompted nearly 40 percent of NGOs to suspend activities, according to the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) March assessment. Access restrictions affected more than 1 million people in need during March, the UN reports.
Despite access constraints, U.S. Government (USG) partners are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq. With support from State/PRM and other donors, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is distributing dignity kits containing hygiene items to individuals in camps, training health personnel on COVID19 response protocols, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to its staff. Furthermore, USAID partners are adjusting ongoing humanitarian programs to respond to COVID-19, including by conducting hygiene promotion campaigns, delivering medical commodities to health facilities, and distributing hygiene kits to populations in need.