At the start of 2022, Iraq has 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including over one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have not yet found a sustainable path back home after the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). People in need are present in nearly all of Iraq’s eighteen governorates, but vulnerabilities continue to be highest in the conflict-affected governorates of north and central Iraq. Sixty-six percent of these IDPs—hundreds of thousands of people—first fled their homes eight years ago. While some have managed to create lives of relative stability in displacement, the most vulnerable among them live in critical shelter such as abandoned or unfinished buildings, including in informal settlements, lacking access to health care or sanitation facilities, and facing increased food insecurity and heightened protection risks.
Life is not always better for those who have returned home, who may find that their areas of origin lack government-supported basic infrastructure, services, security, and livelihood opportunities. While they may no longer be technically “displaced,” they do not necessarily have the government support they need to rebuild their lives, ensuring that their vulnerabilities endure while the focus of the international community shifts elsewhere. The humanitarian community’s calculations for 2022 indicate that more than half a million returnees remain in acute need of humanitarian assistance. This cannot be considered a durable solution. Ending displacement will require government support, political will, and community reconciliation, in addition to the sustained attention of the international community.
The United Nations, the Government of Iraq and our humanitarian partners, supported by donors, have managed to help nearly 5 million people return home over the last four years. Persistent access challenges have been largely resolved. Stabilization and development projects are evident in many places, with new areas being regenerated with each passing month.
The signing of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework provides the framework for addressing many of the remaining challenges that require long-term structural solutions beyond the humanitarian response—while also creating a roadmap for how best to implement durable solutions for those in protracted displacement. The humanitarian operation now needs an approach to coordination that runs along two parallel tracks. The first track ensures the continuation of the life-saving humanitarian operation, where the objectives of the HRP are achieved in an effective, efficient, and accountable manner. In parallel, the second track will work with development, stabilization, and government entities to operationalize the nexus, develop and implement a transition strategy, and progress towards a self-sufficient, peaceful and prosperous Iraq.
The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan outlines the humanitarian community’s detailed plans for the year ahead based on an evidence-based analysis of the needs of IDPs and their communities, and presents the financial requirements needed to achieve its aims. As Humanitarian Coordinator, it is my honour to oversee the work of humanitarian partners and to assure the implementation of the nexus as we continue our efforts to serve Iraq.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.