Many vulnerable Iraqis are unable to meet their basic needs due to political instability and rising food prices in the aftermath of conflict and COVID-19. A large number of families who fled during the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State remain in protracted displacement.
Access to basic services such as education and health care remains a challenge. According to the UN, approximately 2.5 million people continue to need humanitarian assistance. For those most in need, the EU provides humanitarian assistance, including legal aid and protection.
What are the needs?
A dire socio-economic situation and civil unrest, coupled with drought and COVID-19’s consequences, are fuelling humanitarian needs that are further aggravated by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The government’s closure of camps has worsened living conditions for many internally displaced Iraqis. People have returned to inadequately prepared areas lacking the 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 who were displaced during 2014-2017. 2 out of 5 Iraqis who went back home lack adequate housing, jobs and access to basic services. The COVID-19 pandemic has moreover placed an additional burden on a health system that has yet to recover from decades of war and neglect.
Instead of returning to their areas of origin, about 550,000 people have moved to informal settlements with sub-standard shelter and facilities. They often face issues earning an income and 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. It does so by improving access to basic services such as health care, education and multi-sector assistance.
In 2022, the EU allocated €24 million for humanitarian programmes. It supports efforts to help the most vulnerable, including internally displaced people in camps and families living outside of camps in 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. However, the EU maintains its assistance in the few remaining camps for internally displaced people.
Last year, EU humanitarian aid was channelled to over 400,000 people, mostly women and children. Today, the EU continues to support the resumption of basic public services, including health care and education in conflict-affected areas such as western Ninewa, western Anbar and Hawija.
Also in 2021, the EU allocated additional funds to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccination for the displaced population by supporting health facilities, providing medical supplies and personal protective equipment, and raising awareness among communities.
To date, the EU continues to fund activities that protect people at risk of mistreatment and abuse. The EU supports 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, as well as rehabilitation and prosthetics for victims of violence.
An important focus of EU humanitarian support is the assistance provided to families who lost essential identification papers during the conflict. In 2023, the EU will help them through legal support and monthly cash assistance as they go through the process of obtaining identity and civil documentation. Cash assistance also benefits families with a chronically ill member who are no longer able to meet their essential needs.
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 €530.5 million in humanitarian aid to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees inside Iraq.
Last updated: 19/12/2022
Facts & figures
2.5 million Iraqis in need of humanitarian assistance
Approx. 1.2 million displaced people
4.9 million returnees
263,000 Syrian refugees
(sources: HNO 2022 / UNHCR Nov. 2022)
EU humanitarian funding:
€24 million in 2022
€530.5 million since 2014