The dire socio-economic situation, further worsened by COVID-19, has disrupted education, livelihoods and access to food for vulnerable Iraqis. Having fled during the conflict with the Islamic State, many families remain in protracted displacement and cannot return home.
Access to basic services remains a challenge, and according to the UN, some 961,000 people have acute humanitarian needs. The EU provides humanitarian assistance and protection for those most in need.
What are the needs?
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an additional burden on a health system that is yet to recover from decades of war and neglect. The country is facing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases for which the health system is ill-prepared.
The government’s closure of camps has worsened living conditions for many displaced Iraqis. People have returned to areas not adequately prepared, lacking services and security that would make their return safe and sustainable.
Despite reconstruction efforts in war-torn areas, durable solutions for return only exist for about 40% of the 6 million Iraqis displaced from 2014-2017. 2 out of 5 Iraqis who returned to their areas of origin lack adequate housing, jobs, and access to basic services.
Instead of going back home, some 550,000 people moved to informal settlements with sub-standard shelter and facilities. Their living conditions are difficult and often unsustainable.
They also face issues earning an income or sending their children to school. The lack of civil documentation is the main protection issue and hinders the return of the majority of displaced people to their areas of origin.
Access to basic services such as health care, education and legal assistance are the most pressing humanitarian needs in Iraq today.
How are we helping?
The EU is a leading donor in Iraq. Through its partners, the EU continues to provide humanitarian aid and protection by supporting access to basic services such as health care, education and multi-sector assistance.
In camps and in informal settlements, displaced people are the main beneficiaries of this humanitarian aid, while protection services are given to people deprived of their liberty. We continue supporting the national health system in the wake of COVID-19, with a special focus on vaccination.
In 2022, the EU allocated €20 million for humanitarian programmes. The EU supports efforts to help the most vulnerable, including people in camps and informal settlements.
Special attention is given to displaced people affected by the camp closures, especially those unable or unwilling to return to their areas of origin. The EU also maintains its assistance in the few remaining camps for internally displaced people.
Last year, EU humanitarian aid was channelled to over 400,000 people, most of them women and children. The EU supports the resumption of basic public services, including health care and education in conflict-affected areas, such as western Ninewa, western Anbar and Hawija.
In 2021, the EU allocated an additional €3.5 million to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccination for the displaced population. Some of the funded activities are: (i) support to referral hospitals and health facilities, (ii) provision of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies, and (iii) awareness raising on how to reduce the risk of infection and improve access to vaccination for vulnerable groups.
Furthermore, the EU funds activities that protect people at risk of mistreatment and abuse. We support legal and psychosocial assistance for minors in camps and detention centres. Our partners improve access to water in overcrowded prisons. They also provide specialised care and services for survivors of sexual violence and physical therapy, rehabilitation and prosthetics for victims of violence.
The EU is also committed to helping families who lost essential identification papers during the conflict through legal assistance. EU aid helps thousands of Iraqis obtain civil documentation.
National civil documentation is essential as it allows people to move freely and safely obtain assistance and care and attend school. The international community strongly encourages authorities to adopt a more systematic approach to providing documents, including birth registration, for all Iraqis.
Since 2014, the EU has provided over €526.5 million in humanitarian aid to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees inside Iraq.
Last updated: 10/05/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2017 (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
2.45 million Iraqis in need of humanitarian assistance.
Approx. 1.1 million displaced people
4.9 million returnees
254,000 Syrian refugees
(sources: UNOCHA GHO 2022 / UNHCR Dec. 2021)
EU humanitarian funding:
€20 million in 2022
€526.5 million since 2014