Complex Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security in Iraq

New report from FAO, IFAD, WFP and the World Bank reveals complex impact of COVID-19 on food security in Iraq

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank have collected and analyzed new data on the impact of the crisis on food security, and made corresponding joint recommendations in the first report of a new regular series, "The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security in Iraq."

Many people have been unable to work during the current crisis. Around 4.8 million people (12% of the total population) are using negative coping strategies to meet their food needs, and a large stimulus package will be required to re-start the economy, beyond the current measures to mitigate the impact on households and businesses.

On the other hand, food availability has been stable overall, with above-average cereal production in the 2019/2020 season, and the government of Iraq taking a proactive role to keep the food system open despite lockdowns. Food imports have continued, with global trade largely uninterrupted.

Humanitarian, social protection and development responses have stepped up, both from the government (such as "Minha" - "Grant") and supporting partners. However, global trends have had a cascading impact on Iraq. The fall in oil prices and the slow recovery of the global oil market have had negative implications for the domestic budget, and may affect the government's ability to continue to fund social protection programmes and agriculture subsidies.

With assistance from Food Security Cluster partners and the Cash Consortium of Iraq, FAO, IFAD, WFP and the World Bank analyzed food availability and access, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, and jointly made policy recommendations.

"With initiatives to work towards a regional trade integration framework, create an enabling environment for increasing domestic production, invest in productive infrastructure, enhance social protection and monitor food security, vulnerable households can continue to have access to nutritious food. All possible efforts will be made to support the government of Iraq and implement the proposed recommendations," said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr Salah El Hajj Hassan, IFAD Representative for Iraq Tarek Ahmed, WFP Iraq Representative Abdirahman Meygag, and World Bank Iraq Representative Ramzi Neman, in a joint statement.

The new publication builds on the partners' weekly reports on COVID-19 and food security, which launched in April and continue to be released.

Download a copy of the new report at: https://bit.ly/2VDbH3a

(Source: UN)

AMAR Panel Discussion on Healthcare in Iraq

By John Lee.

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation is delighted to invite you to attend an on line Zoom panel of Iraqi medical experts from the World Health Organisation, IBBC healthcare and our front-line doctor, live from the IDP camps, to discuss the current healthcare situation in Iraq and the immediate challenges in Iraq and AMAR's IDP camp services.

The event will take place on 3rd July at 03:00 PM (BST)

Click here to register.

(Source: AMAR)

Australia contributes $600k to Refugees in Iraq

The Government of Australia has provided AUD 866,000 (USD 591,000) to support the work of UNFPA in Iraq. The funding will provide assistance to 38,000 women and girls, in Duhok and Nineveh Governorates over the next year.

The new contribution will primarily support Syrian refugees who arrived in Iraq in 2019 as a result of the military operations in north-eastern Syria. Women and girls, survivors of gender-based violence; and men, as allies of the prevention and response to gender-based issues, will benefit from prevention and response services, such as psychosocial support and case management.

The funding will also allow UNFPA to procure and pre-position 8,000 dignity kits for women and girls of reproductive age, in particular, refugee and internally displaced populations.

"Australia is pleased to continue to work with UNFPA to ensure the reproductive health needs of women and girls affected by conflict are being met, and work towards a world where women and girls can live free from violence", said Dr Joanne Loundes (pictured), the Ambassador of Australia to Iraq.

Acknowledging the contribution, Dr Oluremi Sogunro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, said: "Australia has been a consistent and reliable partner for UNFPA's work in Iraq. Australia has given UNFPA women and girls in Iraq, through UNFPA, to a total of AUD 16.8 million since October 2014. We couldn't be more grateful for this trust in our work. With this new commitment, Iraq is a step closer to ensuring no woman or girl is left behind in Iraq".

(Source: UN)

Switzerland Supports WFP Assistance to Refugees in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a donation of US$522,500 from the Government of Switzerland to support the food needs of nearly 24,000 refugees and internally displaced people for one month.

The funds, coming through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, will be used to provide cash assistance to 13,400 Iraqis displaced by the conflict and 10,400 Syrian refugees.

"During the ongoing pandemic, refugees and displaced persons remain among the most vulnerable in Iraq," said the Ambassador of Switzerland to Iraq Lukas Gasser.

"Switzerland continues its long-term partnership with WFP, working together to support displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugee families, to get through this difficult time of heightened need - especially as many affected people remain unable to work."

Due to increased needs caused by COVID-19, WFP has scaled up its assistance in Iraq reaching a total of 76,000 refugees and 280,000 IDPs.

"WFP expresses its continued gratitude for the steadfast support of the people and Government of Switzerland particularly during this difficult time," said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag.

"Many IDPs and refugee families had begun to achieve some self-sufficiency in securing their food needs before the pandemic. Now many have lost their jobs, among the worst affected are day labourers and seasonal workers."

In ongoing efforts to mitigate COVID-19, WFP is pioneering cashless payments in camps, so that people can purchase food in a "contactless" manner. This both reduces the need for banknotes, and helps avoid the need for people to leave the camp and move around more than necessary.

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners continue awareness sessions on precautionary measures, and will begin emergency livelihoods projects as soon as it is safe, to help affected people to work again and secure their food needs.

(Source: UN)

EU gives $2.8m in Relief to Iraqi Children

By John Lee.

A recent contribution of USD2.8 million by the European Union has provided immediate relief to 90,000 vulnerable people -half of them children - in emergency camps in Salamiya, Hamam al Alil and Jeda'a 1 and 5 IDP camps within Ninawa governorate.

Only 39 per cent of Iraq's population have access to safely managed drinking water. The situation is particularly dire for thousands of vulnerable families living in camps and who depend on humanitarian support for their survival.

"The generous contribution from the EU enabled UNICEF to continue trucking in safe water for drinking and cooking. This helped to protect the health of children and their families from dangerous diseases, including Acute Watery Diarrhea and Cholera, both which can result from the consumption of unsafe water," said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

Funds were also used to support appropriate sanitation facilities and maintaining a clean and hygienic environment through care maintenance and waste management, water quality monitoring and distribution.

Iraqi and non-Iraqi children continue to be vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation and in need of protection prevention and response services in both camp and non-camp settings. In addition, many of the children in former conflict areas do not have birth certificate and other civil document, which is a legacy of conflict and upheaval in Iraq. This has restricted their ability to move out of camps and to access to social services like health, education and social protection.

Thanks to the EU's longstanding support, UNICEF has also been able to:

  • repatriate 200 foreign children back to their countries of origin;
  • provide psychosocial services to 4,235 children (2125 girls);
  • legal assistance to 596 children (188 girls) in contact with the law;
  • A further 1,107 children (373 girls) received birth registration and civil documentation.

(Source: UN)

Netherlands assists Vulnerable Displaced Persons in Iraq

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes a new donation of USD 5.6 million from the Kingdom of the Netherlands for 2019 and 2020 to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

This contribution is part of the global PROSPECTS Partnership aiming at joining partners’ efforts to develop a new paradigm in responding to forced displacement crises through the involvement of development actors. While Iraq recovers from conflict, the needs of its population diversify. Some 4.4 million people have returned to their homes and are restarting their lives; however, the conditions for sustainable return are not yet met across all the country.

Continued assistance for the 1.4 million displaced Iraqis and over 286,000 refugees, and the host communities, is essential to ensure a stable and peaceful recovery. The generous contribution from the Kingdom of the Netherlands will ensure the provision of legal assistance and civil documentation to internally displaced persons across Iraq, along with the provision of specialized individual and group-based psychosocial support for children.

In addition, the donation will contribute to improve the access to formal primary and secondary education for Syrian refugee children in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. H.E. Mr. Eric Strating (pictured), Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Iraq, emphasized the importance of the urgent recovery and strengthened resilience of those who have been affected and displaced by conflict. “If we truly want to assist Iraq in achieving durable stability, we cannot leave anyone behind. Assistance in the field of civil documentation, access to education, but also psychosocial support, is part of the most basic needs for people who are trying to rebuild their lives.”

Within this context, the Netherlands initiated the PROSPECTS Partnership in Iraq, aimed at strengthened cooperation of humanitarian and development partners, in order to achieve durable solutions for the 1.4 million displaced Iraqi’s and the 286,000 refugees on Iraqi soil.The recent Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment conducted from June to August 2019, shows that nearly 2.9 million individuals, including camp-based and out-of-camp IDPs as well as returnees, are missing at least one form of civil documentation.

With the generous donation from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNHCR will continue assisting IDPs to access legal assistance and civil documentation in collaboration with the Government of Iraq, helping them establish their legal identity, access public services, return to their homes, and exercise their basic rights.

Moreover, this contribution will support the provision of case management and psychosocial support for children survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse, and will complement education assistance aimed at ensuring access to formal education opportunities and obtaining official learning accreditation for Syrian refugee children.

“While the situation in Iraq has notably improved during the past years and the country is steadily transitioning and advancing into a new post-conflict phase, we need to continue supporting its people in their recovery and national reconciliation efforts. Particularly the more than 1.4 million Iraqis and over 286,000 refugees still affected by displacement and wishing to rebuild their lives. This generous contribution enables us to be responsive and compassionate with those that continue relying heavily on humanitarian assistance. With ongoing support, we will stand with all those affected by displacement in Iraq until complete recovery is achieved.” said Ayman Gharaibeh, UNHCR Representative in Iraq.

(Source: UN)

IDPs in Iraq to benefit from EUR 100m Assistance Package

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

The European Union (EU) – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.

With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented:

“The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity.

“At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.

The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:

  • €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
  • €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.

This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.

The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance.

The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.

(Source: EU)

IDPs in Iraq to benefit from EUR 100m Assistance Package

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

The European Union (EU) – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.

With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented:

“The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity.

“At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.

The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:

  • €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
  • €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
  • €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.

This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.

The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance.

The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.

(Source: EU)

Continued Winter Assistance Needed for IDPs

Continued Winter Assistance Needed for Displaced and Vulnerable Iraqis: IOM

As winter temperatures set in, accompanied by winds and rain, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq has completed the three-month distribution of 25,000 winter non-food item kits. Consisting of heaters, blankets and jerry cans, the kits meet the most urgent needs of 150,000 vulnerable individuals across the country.

IOM’s winterization assistance reached 13,000 displaced households in camps, thousands of displaced families in informal settlements, and thousands of others who have returned to their home communities.

“Although displaced households are continuing to return to their home communities, those remaining in camps or informal settlements are often the most vulnerable and have little to protect themselves against the cold winter conditions,” said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq Chief of Mission.

In partnership with local governmental authorities, IOM prioritized distributions in hard-to-reach or insecure areas where other humanitarian partners are not present, such as in communities bordering Syria and in Qayrawan and Hatra, in Ninewa governorate.

Of the 1.8 million persons who remain displaced as a result of the conflict with ISIL, over 500,000 are in camps and 140,000 live in critical shelter arrangements (informal settlements, schools or religious or abandoned buildings). More than four million people previously displaced have returned to their homes since mid-2015, but many continue to live in precarious conditions.

As people return home, many have found their personal belongings stolen and their houses damaged. With massive destruction in areas of return and limited economic opportunities, returnee households are exposed to the harsh effects of winter and are unable to afford items to cope with the cold.

The provision of humanitarian assistance in areas of return is therefore critical to support the reintegration of returning displaced families and other vulnerable households in conflict-affected communities.

“After being displaced for a year and a half in the city of Kirkuk, we returned to our village, which was destroyed by ISIL. Everything was damaged, including our house and shop, which was our only source of income. We had to start our life from scratch, while our deteriorating financial condition and cold weather forced us to use firewood as a heating source during the chilly winter nights. We are very happy to receive these items, now we will have a heater to stay warm,” said Nora, a mother of four children, at a distribution in Al Abassi district, Kirkuk governorate.

“Despite the success of this winter response operation, we are extremely concerned for the many Iraqis who remain in displacement who will have to endure another harsh winter in camps and in sub-standard shelters,” said Alberto Preato, Head of IOM Iraq’s Preparedness and Response Unit.

“This year we are piloting innovative approaches to housing reconstruction and cash-based humanitarian assistance to enable displaced families return to their home communities,” he continued.

IOM’s winter non-food item kits are funded by the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

As more displaced families attempt to return home, IOM remains committed to supporting the Government of Iraq to seek durable solutions for vulnerable displaced persons and address needs of conflict-affected communities throughout the country.

Click here to watch a video of an IOM staff member speaking about winter support for displaced Iraqis and returnees.

(Source: UN)

In-Depth look into Displacement and Returns in Iraq

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released the Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) III report.

The Integrated Location Assessment – Round III provides an in-depth look into both displacement and return movements in Iraq, putting a special focus on profiling the locations these groups live in and the social dynamics they are immersed in.

The latest round of the ILA study, completed from 6 March to 6 May 2018, includes the demographics of the displaced and returnee populations, their current conditions, movement intentions, vulnerabilities, sectorial needs and the state of social cohesion in the locations they currently live in. It covers 4,177 locations, reaching approximately 1,491,792 IDPs (248,632 families) and 3,585,210 returnees (597,535) across Iraq.

Key findings of the assessment are summarized below:

Compared to May 2017, the number of IDPs has reduced by approximately one third (-34%, 1,017,048 individuals). Decreases were recorded across all Iraqi governorates hosting IDPs, particularly in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din, but except in Sulaymaniyah.

Among those who remain displaced, 48% are hosted within their governorate of origin, 35% in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), 14% in other north-central governorates and 3% in southern governorates – nearly all in Najaf. Over half of current IDPs (54%) have been in displacement for more than 3 years, 38% between 1 and 3 years and 8% for less than one year.

Access to employment/livelihood opportunities continues to be the main concern of IDPs in nearly all locations – and more so compared to last year. In fact, it was cited among top 3 concerns in locations where 93% of IDPs are currently hosted – it was 63% in May 2017.

For IDPs, lack of access to employment/livelihoods translates into the related difficulty of accessing food (51%), household and non-food items (NFIs, 66%) and shelter (42%). In fact, basic needs were generally rated as far more important than recovery needs.

In addition, nearly three fourth of displaced families report the lack of a shelter to return, around one in five does not have enough money for the journey back (reportedly most IDPs originally from Anbar and Baghdad) and/or is afraid to lose aid/humanitarian assistance.

Most IDP families intending to voluntarily stay in area of displacement in the long term (12% of current IDPs) can be found in southern governorates. Between 28% and 38% of IDPs hosted in Baghdad, Kerbala and Kirkuk, are also willing to voluntarily stay. Involuntary stay (10% at country level) is more prevalent in Sulaymaniyah, Babylon and reported, to a lesser extent, in Diyala.

IDPs are mainly re-settling in the South by virtue of its safety and the presence of extended family and friends, whereas staying in north-central governorates is mostly involuntary – families have lost everything at home or have no means to return. Safety, services and job opportunities are the most important reasons to relocate in the KRI.

The most frequently reported vulnerable categories are persons with disabilities, female-headed households and minor headed households – overall, between 53% and 72% of IDPs and returnees live in locations where the presence of at least one of the above groups was reported.

The most frequently reported minor vulnerability is work. Overall, around 70% of returnees and IDPs live in locations where the presence of minors working was assessed. In addition, around one fourth of returnees and IDPs live in locations where children are married, children are begging, and/or they were born during displacement, and hence do not have birth certificates and other documents.

Download full report.

(Source: IOM)