UNICEF Health and Nutrition team finalised the COVID19 response plan with the agreement of Iraq Federal Ministry of Health and the implementation from April 2020 throughout June has been ongoing.
Despite challenges, between April and June 2020, UNICEF- supported NGO and government health partners continued delivering the basic Primary Health Care services in all IDP and Refugee camps.
187,870 affected population in camp settings have been reached with WASH services, along with 51,200 returnees who have been provided with access to improved drinking water in Sinjar district-Ninawa.
In partnership with Kerbala University, UNICEF supported local production and distribution of 35,000 local hand sanitizers and 30,000 disinfectants for 22 hospitals and 9 Health Care Facilities.
Despite the closures of schools due to COVID-19, in the first 6 months of 2020, 26 education partners reached 75,356 children within their HRP targets.
Funding Overview and Partnerships
In 2020 UNICEF is appealing for US$62.2 million to sustain and improve provision of critical basic services for children and women in Iraq. Between April and June 2020, UNICEF received generous funding from United States (BPRM) for Education programme, and generous funding from Norway for Child Protection. As of 30 June 2020, UNICEF Iraq HAC appeal stands 39% funded (USD$ 24 million) with 61% funding gap (USD$ 37 million).
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The escalation of the COVID-19 crisis globally has been mirrored in Iraq, affecting all aspects of life in the country, including the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations, notably children and women. For the period April to May the number of cases and deaths across the country remained relatively low and manageable, from a cumulative total of 728 reported cases and 50 deaths on 1st April to 6,439 cases and 205 deaths by 31st May. However, the situation then started to escalate, with a total of 21,315 cases by 15th June and 49,109 by 30th June, with 652 and 1,943 total deaths respectively. Measures taken by the Government to combat the pandemic have inevitably restricted access for humanitarian actors to needy populations and diverted attention and resources. Nevertheless, humanitarian actors including UNICEF have continued to support the provision of basic services to populations in need, notably in IDP camp settings, with waivers on movement restrictions being granted by the Government for essential services.
Public demonstrations that were so widespread earlier in the year have inevitably been more restricted by the COVID19 situation. Nevertheless they have continued in some places, particularly in the south of the country, and have been further fuelled by discontent with the economic fallout from the combination of the COVID-19 situation and the severe drop in the price of oil, which have combined to leave many vulnerable people out of work and struggling to make ends meet. The security situation has also been variable, with occasional rocket attacks against military and US assets mainly in Baghdad, as well as a resurgence of small-scale attacks by ISIS and retaliatory action by the Iraqi Security Forces.
The formation of a government after the third attempt, led by the new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, gives some optimism of a certain period of political stability that will support more effective and sustainable approaches to meeting the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable populations in Iraq.
As of 30 June 2020, more than 1.38 million people (648,000 children) remained internally displaced in Iraq, mainly in the north and west of the country, while 4.7 million people (2.2 million children) had returned to places of origin1 . In the month of May, additional people returned from Dohok to Sinjar and Baaj districts in Ninawa, driven by economic and financial impact of COVID-19. This increased over the month of June recording in total 3,829 (687 families). IOM DTM team also recorded that 69 per cent of the return caseload was returned to their location of origin, while 31 per cent did not return to their locations of origin and were recorded as out-of-camp IDPs2. Within the period April – June 2020, an increase of 142,530 returnees living in severe or poor conditions has been observed - 14 per cent of the total returnees compared to 11 per cent in the period Jan – March 20203 . Data shows that, as of June 2020, 62 formal camps remained open with a population of 269,236 individuals (134,782 children), compared to 62 camps with a population of 277,177 individuals as of March 20204.