USAID relief assistance for Iraq update 21 Mar 2003

USAID is fully committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq - to save lives, alleviate suffering, and mitigate the impact of emergency situations. For the last several months, various U.S. government agencies and departments, including USAID, have been planning for a possible humanitarian emergency by:

  • Assembling and training the largest-ever U.S. humanitarian rapid response team;

  • Pre-positioning stockpiles of emergency supplies and commodities;

  • Communicating and coordinating with U.S. and international humanitarian organizations; and

  • Funding international organizations and non-governmental organizations' preparatory efforts.

USAID will rely heavily on international and non-government relief professionals

  • they will be the delivers of assistance.

For instance, the largest USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in U.S. history-- outside of an Urban Search and Rescue response - has been recruited. It is headquartered in Kuwait City and will have three mobile field offices. The DART will conduct assessments, direct assistance towards vulnerable populations and provide funding to the IO and NGO providers.

The DART is comprised of more than 60 humanitarian response experts from various agencies and departments, including USAID; the Department of State's Bureau for Population, Migration, and Refugees (PRM); and the Department of Health and Human Service's Public Health Service.

In addition to technical experts in areas such as health, food, water, and shelter, the DART has grant making authority and includes administrative officers in logistics, transportation, and procurement, enabling the team to function as a turnkey response mechanism for assessment and funding in the field.

U.S. government officials and a wide range of U.S.- based and international organizations have been meeting for several months to plan for a humanitarian response in Iraq. In the region, the DART will continue to serve as a central point of contact, conducting assessments, exchanging information and facilitating delivery of humanitarian assistance by NGOs, U.N. agencies, international organizations (IOs), and the U.S. military, if necessary, in support of U.N. OCHA's overall coordination mandate.

In addition, USAID has funded a significant contingency coordination effort for many NGOs preparing to assist in Iraq called the Joint NGO Emergency Preparedness Initiative (JNEPI), offering support to their assessment, logistics, stockpiling, and staffing needs. PRM funding has gone to support the contingency preparations of international humanitarian relief organizations.

USAID is pre-positioning emergency supplies for the Iraqi people, including material in warehouses throughout the region. In addition to pre-positioned and in-transit food, these supplies include wool blankets; rolls of plastic sheeting for emergency shelter; personal hygiene kits; World Health Organization Emergency Health Kits; and water jugs, bladders, containers, and treatment units

Areas of expertise and responsibility for humanitarian assistance include:

  • Health and medicines
  • Water and sanitation
  • Food and nutrition
  • Shelter and supplies
  • Internally displaced persons
  • Humanitarian assistance infrastructure
  • Refugees and asylum seekers

Infrastructure and funding for distribution.

USAID has positioned $154 million for Iraq humanitarian relief, food distribution, reconstruction and transition initiatives. Of that, approximately $35 million has been spent to date.

Department of State's Bureau for Population, Migration, and Refugees (PRM) has spent an additional $15.6 million for pre-positioning by international organizations. Additional funds are in the pipeline.

Of the amount spent by USAID, $17.3 million has been spent on the pre-position of relief commodities.

That amount also includes support to UN agencies, including $2 million to UNICEF for emergency health kits, and nutrition and water/sanitation activities; $5 million to the World Food program for food and logistics measures; and $1 million to the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for NGO and donor coordination.

Support to NGOs, including $900,000, has been provided to establish a consortium to conduct chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear training for other NGOs.

An additional $100,000 was provided to the Interaction to fund an NGO observer to the Humanitarian Operations Center to Kuwait.

To date, PRM has contributed $15.6 million to the U.N. High Commissioners for Refugees and the International Organization fro Migration.