• Water scarcity prompts displacement and health concerns in southern Iraq
• Protection remains at the core of Iraq’s humanitarian response
• World Humanitariay Day remembers the Canal Hotel bombing victims
• Iraq HRP 61 per cent funded but funding gaps threat halt to urgent humanitarian projects
• Iraq Humanitarian Fund allocates US $5 million to support measles response
• Iraq’s NGO forum selects its new Executive Board
In this issue
- Water scarcity in southern Iraq
- Update on HRP progress
- World Humanitarian Day
- Update on HRP funding
- IHF Reserve Allocation for measles response
- NCCI new Executive Board
Water scarcity prompts displacement and health concerns in southern Iraq
Halt to agricultural livelihoods displaced 630 families while contamination of water sent hundreds of people to health facilities.
Iraq is currently facing water shortage that is expected to worsen in the short-to-medium term. Southern governorates, especially Basra, have been particularly affected. Climate change is one factor, but major dam projects upstream in Turkey and Iran are also impacting the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and contributing to the scarcity.
Low water levels are contributing to an increase in salinity, making what limited water available unsuitable for agricultural usage, triggering the migration of approximately 630 families (3,780 people) who are unable to continue their livelihoods. In parallel, aging pipes and infrastructure have contributed to contamination of water supplies, prompting several hundred residents of Basra to seek hospitalization during August. Health practitioners are reporting shortages of both funding and supplies, and concerns exist over a possible cholera outbreak.
Relevant government ministries are coordinating their response to the prospective water crisis. A scoping mission involving the WASH Cluster, UNICEF, WHO and IOM visited four governorates in southern Iraq to determine how the United Nations and NGO partners can best assist national and local authorities in responding to this burgeoning emergency.
Protection remains at the core of Iraq’s humanitarian response
Humanitarian partners reached 1.3 million people with assistance in the first five months of 2018, with varying progress across sectors and geographical locations.
Despite government-imposed bureaucratic impediments and persistent access constraints affecting parts of the country, humanitarian partners have expanded their operational presence including in some newly accessible areas. Together, 105 humanitarian partners reached 1.3 million (38 per cent) of 3.4 million people targeted under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in the first five months of 2018. Response progress varied across clusters and geographical locations. Over 65 per cent of activities reported were in Ninewa governorate, where assessed needs were the most severe, while beneficiary reach and programmatic deliverables in other governorates were limited. Further, delayed donor contributions and unmet funding requirements have put off the commencement of some key humanitarian projects and are threatening the closure of those that have started.
A joint workshop organized by the Iraq Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group on 30 August recognized that protection remained at the core of humanitarian concerns. Forced returns, evictions and presence of armed actors in displacement camps were continuously reported. The humanitarian community revised the Principled Returns Framework, setting the minimum standards for principled returns in accordance with international and domestic laws. People with perceived affiliations with extremist groups were found facing significant barriers in accessing humanitarian aid, a priority concern for the HCT.
Return movements of displaced people continued steadily but at a slower-than-expected pace. Only 600,000 people have returned by the end of May while some new and secondary displacements were reported. The majority (86 per cent) of returns have occurred from out-of-camp locations, raising concerns over protracted displacement of a large number of people in camps which may have to remain open longer than earlier planned. Damaged infrastructure, lack of basic services and livelihood opportunities, insecurity, explosive hazard contamination and challenges with social cohesion have been noted as key deterrents to returns. The Government of Iraq has operationalized Governorate Return Committees, supported by humanitarian partners, to facilitate principled and sustainable returns.
The workshop also underlined a challenge of complementary between HRP and Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP). Implementation of the HRP and the RRP must be better synchronized to ensure coherence and complementarity in collective international support to the Government’s response and recovery efforts.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.