Iraq + 1 more

Iraq: Protection Monitoring of Refugees in Response to COVID-19 Round 3 (November-December 2020)

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With the suspension of household visits in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 movement restrictions and preventative measures, UNHCR initiated the remote protection monitoring exercise as an alternate modality for UNHCR and partners* to conduct targeted, systemized protection monitoring for the refugee and asylumseeker population in Iraq. The survey was designed to provide an overview of how COVID and COVIDrelated measures have affected protection concerns of refugees and asylum-seekers over time and the continued impact on their access to rights, services, and coping mechanisms over the course of the year.
The exercise was initiated in August 2020, covering all governorates of Iraq and surveying Syrian households (HH) and HH of other nationalities. A total 1,407 HH were interviewed in Round 3 (NovemberDecember 2020), complementing 1,605 HH interviewed in Round 2 (October 2020), and 1,653 HH interviewed for Round 1 (August-September 2020).
This report is a summary of Round 3 findings, highlighting the impact of COVID on the protection situation of refugees and asylum-seekers across Iraq.
Round 1 and 2 findings are available at:

Key Findings

  • A growing majority of HH continue to feel well informed about COVID, sourcing information from media and close acquaintances, with the highest degree of trust in government sources and increasing trust in aid agencies, possibly due to expanded communication efforts.

  • Cumulatively across all Rounds, nearly all HH (93%) surveyed own at least one smart device, with slightly fewer able to access internet (83%). Nevertheless, access to smart devices within a HH is restricted to just over half of spouses, and fewer than a quarter of children.

  • Overall evictions and impacts of movement restrictions remained low, with 22 total evictions in Round 3, 22 in Round 2, and 86 in Round 1, due largely to the inability to pay rent.

  • A growing percentage of HH (60%) report reducing overall food consumption and taking on debt in response to COVID despite rollout of winterization and humanitarian cash assistance during the reporting period. Nearly a third of HH are now reliant on humanitarian cash assistance (up from 22%, Round 1), with a decreasing percentage (15%) tapping into remaining savings.

  • Consistent with Rounds 1 and 2, of boys and girls enrolled in formal primary and secondary school prior to COVID, fewer than half continued schooling at home after physical school closures, with most parents still feeling unable to support children’s at-home learning.

  • Hesitations accessing non-COVID related healthcare persist. Of PwSN requiring care, nearly 40% had not received any, consistent with Round 2. Financial constraints, pre-existing issues accessing care, and discontinuation of services were primarily cited.

  • From Round 1 to 3, more HH reported accessing MHPSS services, while psychological states continued to vary between governates. In governorates where services and awareness activities are more available, there was correspondence with lower levels of anxiety, suggesting efficacy of these programmes.

  • From Round 2 to Round 3, there was a decrease in intentions to return to country of origin (CoO) in the next 12 months, with most HHs (90%) reporting no intent.