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Iraq Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2019

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2019 in Review

This Annual Report presents information on the achievements of the Iraq Humanitarian Fund during the 2019 calendar year. However, because grant allocation, project implementation and reporting processes often take place over multiple years (CBPFs are designed to support ongoing and evolving humanitarian responses), the achievement of CBPFs are reported in two distinct ways:

Information on allocations granted in 2019 (shown in blue). This method considers intended impact of the allocations rather than achieved results as project implementation and reporting often continues into the subsequent year and results information is not immediately available at the time of publication of annual reports.

Results reported in 2019 attributed to allocations granted in 2019 and prior years (shown in orange). This method provides a more complete picture of achievements during a given calendar year but includes results from allocations that were granted in previous years. This data is extracted from final narrative reports approved between 1 February 2019 and 31 January 2020.

For the estimation of people targeted and reached, projects with the largest number of beneficiaries disaggregated by gender, age group, geographic location, and cluster within the allocation/reporting period were used to minimize double counting of same individuals. As a result, some of the aggregated beneficiary figures may be underreported.

Contribution recorded based on the exchange rate when the cash was received which may differ from the Certified Statement of Accounts that records contributions based on the exchange rate at the time of the pledge.

HUMANITARIAN CONTEXT

Humanitarian situation in 2019

In 2019, Iraq saw a post-conflict transition from a scaled-up humanitarian response to the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), to multifaceted assistance to support gradual returns of displaced populations to the areas of their origin, while also addressing protracted displacement and pressing protection concerns. Accelerated camp closure and consolidation and various challenges to reconciliation and recovery in the return areas left vulnerable Iraqis with different needs, necessitating diversified, phased assistance supported by strengthened humanitarian-development linkages.

In addition, humanitarian partners grappled with emerging needs throughout the year, including floods in February and March, and a new influx of Syrian refugees triggered by Turkey’s military offensive in north-east Syria in October, as well as humanitarian access challenges due to insecurity and bureaucratic impediments.

Under the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), humanitarian organizations aimed to provide prioritized assistance to support people in the post-conflict transition towards durable solutions, while ensuring the centrality of protection in response and strengthening contingency planning and preparedness to address emerging needs.

Returns, camp consolidation and closure

Of the nearly 6 million Iraqis who were uprooted by the 2014-2017 conflict, approximately 2 million remained displaced at the beginning of 2019. At the same time, 4 million people who had returned to their area of origin were still in need of humanitarian assistance.

The return of IDPs continued throughout the year and was accelerated in the second half of the year with Government-initiated camp consolidation and closure. This resulted in a significant reduction in the number in-camp IDPs (from 1.5 million to 337,000 by the end of 2019) but a marked increase in out-of-camp displaced populations (from 0.5 million to 1.08 million) and vulnerable returnees suffering from the lack of security, basic services, livelihoods and social cohesion in the return sites. Rushed and forced departures from camps and informal settlements led to considerable secondary displacement in Ninewa, Salah Al-Din, Al-Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala governorates. These populations, whose returns were not durable, often moved to worse-served informal sites and in remote areas less accessible to humanitarian actors.

With premature returns and increased movements of people across governorates came the need for the humanitarian community to closely monitor the shifting pockets of risks and vulnerabilities, and to provide agile humanitarian and protection assistance to these populations, particularly in northern and central Iraq. In doing so, humanitarian partners continuously advocated stronger intra-government coordination and adherence to the government-endorsed Principled Returns Framework to facilitate voluntary, dignified, informed and sustainable returns.

Centrality of protection

Protection remained the overarching humanitarian priority in Iraq in 2019 at the core of inter-sectoral response. Informed by the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and HRP, the Humanitarian Country Team developed a Protection Strategy for 2019-2021 to address multiple, pressing protection concerns in the post-conflict transition. These included, inter alia: discrimination and retaliation against people with perceived affiliations to extremist groups; forced, premature, uninformed and obstructed returns of displaced populations; a lack of civil documentation hampering access to essential public services; severe movement restrictions in camps; arbitrary detentions; widespread psychological trauma and distress; security concerns including extensive explosive hazard contamination in return areas; and housing, land and property issues.

Humanitarian Response Plan

In 2019, humanitarian partners in Iraq aimed to reach 1.75 million most vulnerable IDPs, returnees and host community members with prioritized humanitarian and protection assistance.

6.7M People in need

1.75M People targeted

$701M Funding requirement

Natural disasters

Alongside and frequently compounding man-made crises,
Iraq is prone to natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and floods. Heavy seasonal rains during the first few months of 2019 triggered flooding, displacing over 1,500 families in Diyala, Kirkuk, Missan, Ninewa, Salah al-Din, Al-Sulaymaniyah and Wassit governorates. Several light to moderate-scale earthquakes hit the border region between Iran and Iraq in 2019. While none of them caused significant damage in Iraq, the country’s proximity to a fault line places it at continuous risk.

Political tensions and popular protests

Political uncertainty in and around Iraq continued to impact the humanitarian operations in 2019. In October, popular protests against the recently elected federal government erupted in Baghdad and other governorates, threatening the country’s fledgling stability and narrowing the national focus. Also in October, a military offensive by Turkey against Kurdish forces in north-east Syria compounded existing insecurity and uncertainty on Iraq’s western and northern borders and triggered a new influx of over 15,000 Syrian refugees by mid-November. Moreover, escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, two influential Iraqi allies, played out among proxies and added to the uncertain operational context.

Security and access constraints

The prolonged nature of Iraq’s humanitarian crisis has had negative implications for humanitarian access. As the country transitioned from an acute emergency to a post-conflict context, bureaucratic impediments have increased, and security actors multiplied. Almost 4.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.3 million IDPs, were residing in districts with moderate to high access constraints in the governorates of Al-Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din. The proliferation of security actors in Iraq has led to an uncertain operating environment for humanitarians, as checkpoints may be controlled by parties only loosely affiliated with the national government, or who do not adhere to agreed-upon access procedures.

Access constraints intensified when mass political protests, which began in October and continued throughout the last quarter of the year, impacted humanitarian operations throughout the country. Intermittent curfews were imposed in Baghdad and southern governorates, resulting in missions being delayed or cancelled. All coordination with federal ministries was temporarily suspended, and periodic internet outages imposed by the Government throughout much of the country resulted in delays in the issuance of access letters for humanitarian organizations, leading to a short-term interruption of programming for many partners.

Further, in December 2019, a change to the responsibility of the federal government body, which issued access letters to humanitarian partners, led to sudden discontinuation of previously agreed-upon access authorization procedures. This, in the absence of viable alternative mechanisms, has paralyzed many NGO partners’ ability to reach project sites and slowed down critical operations. The political impasse, at the time of writing, remains under negotiation with the Government.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.