Nearly 9 million people in Iraq require humanitarian assistance, including 5 million people who are in critical need of safe water.2 Although 2 million people have returned to their homes,3 3 million people remain displaced, including 1.4 million children.4 In 2018, the humanitarian community anticipates a reduction in armed violence, though new displacements may continue to occur in complex patterns5 and the trend of increasing returns to retaken areas is expected to continue. Maintaining camp services such as water supply, sanitation facilities, schools and protective spaces for displaced children and their families is essential but costly, as is ensuring critical services for returnees. Children remain highly vulnerable and protection concerns are significant. Nearly half of the population of internally displaced school-aged children—some 335,000 children—are out of school.6 Children who have lived in areas formerly held by the armed group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are in need of psychosocial support, vaccinations, support to re-enter school, and safe spaces to play. Outside of camps, Iraq’s public services remain overstretched, with water and sanitation networks damaged by war or neglect and overburdened health systems struggling to serve displaced children and families.
The UNICEF strategy in Iraq is aligned with the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). UNICEF leads the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education clusters, the child protection sub-cluster and the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and is an active member of the health cluster. UNICEF will take a flexible approach to reaching people in need in Iraq, regardless of location. Families on the move will be reached through the RRM, and people in retaken communities will be reached with a multi-sectoral response during conflict or after it subsides. Access to safe water, gender-sensitive sanitation facilities and hygiene awareness will be supported in camps, host communities and retaken areas where people remain or return. Children under 5 years will receive immunization and nutrition services, especially in areas recently affected by conflict. UNICEF will expand access to safe and quality education, particularly in retaken areas, and facilitate sustained psychosocial support and protection services for children in need and their caregivers. UNICEF will work with United Nations and government partners to carry out cash-based interventions, and with non-governmental organizations and government emergency bodies to support capacity building for longer-term recovery.
Results from 2017
As of 31 October 2017, UNICEF had US$125.9 million available against the US$161.4 million appeal (75 per cent funded).7 Complementary resources were used to fund technical support needs not covered by emergency funding. The significant number of new displacements and the adoption of low-cost, high-impact interventions resulted in achievements beyond planned targets for RRM, water, education and child protection. First-line response through the RRM reached 2.3 million displaced and vulnerable people as violence intensified across Iraq. More than 1.8 million people in conflict-affected governorates accessed safe water, primarily through water trucking. Child protection teams provided psychosocial support to 332,000 children, and the use of community-based interventions helped to reduce operational costs. Grave child rights violations were monitored, verified and documented through the strengthened Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, which informed evidence-based advocacy.8 Some 274,000 children, including malnourished children leaving occupied areas, benefitted from expanded rapid nutrition screening. Although lack of learning spaces, crowded classrooms and the displacement of education staff impacted education progress, accelerated e-Learning strategies helped out-of-school children return to learning. UNICEF cash assistance, designed based on joint United Nations vulnerability assessments, reached 7,400 children and expanded into new governorates using a mobile money partnership9 that significantly reduced overhead costs.
UNICEF is requesting US $101,151,160 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Iraq in 2018.12 Without adequate and timely funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing protection crisis. This includes the provision of critical WASH services for internally displaced persons and returning populations facing the spread of cholera, and health services to ensure children are immunized against childhood diseases. Basic supplies and classroom space are also urgently needed to uphold children’s right to education. Child-focused cash assistance will support parents and caregivers to feed, clothe and educate their children.