Iraq: Humanitarian Snapshot (December 2019)
OVERVIEW: Impact of Demonstrations on Humanitarian Operations:
During 2019, Iraq’s humanitarian community was called upon to address a number of varied emergencies.
The early months of the year brought heavier-than-normal seasonal rainfalls and flooding, which caused severe damage to infrastructure throughout northern Iraq. In April, humanitarian actors collaborated on a draft operational plan to address a predicted influx of tens of thousands of Iraqis currently in the Al-Hol displacement camp in Syria, to ensure their humanitarian needs would be met, as appropriate, upon return to Iraq.
Addressing the impact of unexpected consolidations and closures of IDP camps—initiated at the behest of the Ninewa authorites—was a major focus of humanitarian partners in Iraq in late summer and early autumn. As several thousand families moved en masse to other governorates, UN agencies and NGOs collaborated to ensure that returns and transfers were safe, informed and dignified to the extent possible.
During October and November, humanitarian partners worked to respond to a mass inflow of refugees from northeast Syria who were fleeing the Turkish military operation along the Turkey/Syria border. More than 15,000 people arrived at the border crossing with Duhok governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and relevant sectors scaled up services in reception centers and camps to serve their needs.
In parallel, mass political protests—which originated in Baghdad 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.