“We are letting down the people of Iraq when they need us the most”
(Baghdad, 27 July 2015): The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, confirmed today that 184 front line health services have been suspended because of the paralysing funding shortfall for humanitarian activities in Iraq. More than 80 per cent of general health programmes supported by humanitarian partners are now shut, directly impacting one million people. “At a time when the people of Iraq need us the most, we are letting them down,” Ms. Grande said.
The impact is immediate and enormous. Partners estimate that one million sick people, who would have sought primary medical care, will not receive help. Over half a million children will not be immunized, spreading the risk of a measles outbreak and the resumption of polio and contributing to morbidity amongst some of the most vulnerable children in the entire region.
The most recent cut-backs come on top of cascading closures. In May, food rations for over one million people were sharply reduced. Nearly 30 per cent of water, sanitation and hygiene programmes have closed due to lack of funding and more are set to close by the end of July leaving 1.78 million people without access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene services. Other critical activities are at risk: specialized assistance programmes for one million women and more than 1.2 million girls, many of whom the survivors of brutality and sexual and gender-based violence, are closing. Half of the programmes providing shelter and household support that were providing life-saving help at the start of June will scale back unless additional funding is received.
“Less than two months ago, on 4 June, we urgently appealed for funding. Humanitarian partners presented the most highly prioritized, pared-to-the bone appeal ever launched in the region. Although some support is coming in, it’s devastating, inexplicable really, that we are being forced to shut-down programmes in a country where so much is at stake and where the international community is so involved,” said Ms. Grande.
Humanitarian partners are seeking US$498 million to cover the costs of providing shelter, food, water and other life-saving services for the remainder of the year. To date, only 15 per cent of this has been secured. The current crisis in Iraq has unfolded rapidly and with devastating impact. In one year, the number of people requiring life-saving assistance has quadrupled; poverty rates in the Kurdistan region where more than a million displaced people have sought safety, have doubled. An estimated 8.2 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid – including 2.3 million people living in areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As conflict intensifies, partners anticipate more than one million more people will need help to survive before the end of 2015.
For further information, contact: Cecilia Attefors, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq, (firstname.lastname@example.org /+964 (0)751 1352880)