Iraq: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (August 2020)

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Humanitarian partners reported 97 access incidents to OCHA during the month of August; approximately 91 per cent of incidents constituted administrative restrictions on humanitarian activities and movements. It is estimated that approximately 65,000 people in need were directly affected by reported access-related incidents, including 54 per cent in Ninewa governorate, 24 per cent in Baghdad, eight per cent in Kirkuk, and seven per cent were in each of Anbar and Salah Ad Din governorates.
Most incidents were due to a combination of the COVID-19 containment measures, along with preexisting administrative restrictions on humanitarian activities, namely, the lack of national-level access authorization letters for NGOs, issued by the National Operations Center (NOC).
Furthermore, almost half of reported access incidents (46 incidents) were related to lack of NOC access letters for UN agencies or their contractors. During the month, the NOC revised its procedures for UN agency access clearance requests for contractor movements and issued instructions that UN agencies must submit access clearance requests a minimum of ten days in advance of planned UN movement of personnel.
Although most reported access difficulties were administrative in nature, there were also several occasions in Ninewa, Kirkuk and Salah Ad Din, when government authorities demanded that NGOs provide profiles of their organizations and staff, including locations of the organizations’ offices across the country, full names of staff and relatives, registration certificate. On at least two of these occasions, the governorate authorities attempted to influence the hiring practices of the organizations, and in one case threatened to close the local offices of an organization if it did not comply with demands.
Finally, there are concerns that humanitarian organizations may be increasingly at-risk of being targeted by armed actors in Iraq. On 26 August, a roadside IED detonated against a UN convoy on the Erbil–Mosul Road, resulting in the injury of one staff member and damage to one UN vehicle.
The extent of access challenges faced by humanitarian partners are not fully reflected by the incidents captured in this snapshot. To improve the accuracy of the representation of access challenges in Iraq, humanitarian organizations are encouraged to report all incident details to OCHA sub-offices.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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