Iraq + 1 more

Iraq: COVID-19 Addendum to the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 (July 2020)


Overview of the humanitarian landscape in Iraq





In Iraq, the COVID-19 outbreak hit a country already facing a humanitarian crisis, further deepening vulnerabilities and disrupting ongoing efforts to deliver aid to the most vulnerable people in acute need of humanitarian assistance. The people most in need of such assistance continue to be those directly affected by the 2014-2017 conflict against ISIL, particularly those who were internally displaced. Of the six million people internally displaced during the conflict, approximately 1.4 million remain in displacement, 70 per cent of whom have been displaced for more than three years. In 2020, humanitarian partners are targeting 1.77 million people in acute need of humanitarian assistance, including camp-based internally displaced people (IDPs), highly vulnerable outof-camp IDPs and returnees in areas of high severity (indicating lack of livelihoods, basic services, social cohesion and security).

Humanitarian partners are operating in increasingly unstable political and security contexts. In October 2019, demonstrations against the federal government erupted in Baghdad and other governorates as protesters decried perceived corruption, high unemployment and poor public services. The protests continued intermittently until March when imposed COVID-19 lockdowns dispersed the crowds. Tensions between Iran and the United States continue to play out in Iraq, adding to an already uncertain security environment. With a new Prime Minister announced in May 2020, there is a renewed expectation that Iraq will address development and stabilization needs; however, the country has been hit by the economic slowdown attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the subsequent collapse in oil prices.

Almost three years after Iraq’s military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) ended, social, ethnic and sectarian tensions persist. Recent months have witnessed a marked increase in ISIL-initiated attacks around Iraq. The threat of a resurgent ISIL is likely to fracture any progress towards social cohesion and could result in further discrimination against, and harassment of, those IDPs and returnees who are perceived to be affiliated with terrorist groups.

Overview of COVID-19 in Iraq

COVID-19 was first detected in Iraq on 24 February. Early cases were linked to arrivals from neighbouring Iran, with community transmission quickly following. Aware that Iraq’s health system would not be able to respond to a major outbreak, authorities quickly closed borders, schools, public areas and airports, and cancelled attendance at religious festivals. These preventative actions kept case numbers significantly lower than neighbouring countries, until movement restrictions were loosened in late April for Ramadan, which—along with an increased testing regime—has resulted in an acute surge in the numbers of confirmed cases. By 5 July, there were 58,354 confirmed cases in all governorates, 2,368 deaths and 31,077 recoveries. In May and June, cases were recorded in IDP camps, though widespread transmission has not yet occurred in camps.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit