Fatima, 10, washes her face at a water tank provided by UNICEF in Tinah Camp on September 5, 2016. USAID has been supporting UNICEF to provide safe drinking water at the displacement camp in Ninewa Governorate to keep families, especially kids, healthy.

Key Developments

On September 21, the Government of Iraq (GoI) launched a military offensive to retake Kirkuk Governorate’s Hawija District and the east bank of Salah ad Din Governorate’s Shirqat District from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to the UN. The military operations had resulted in the displacement of nearly 12,700 people as of September 30, according to U.S. government (USG) partner the International Organization for Migration. Relief actors provided assistance—including emergency food, health care, and safe drinking water—to internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Hawija and Shirqat at muster points, security screening sites, and displacement camps.

The Kurdistan Regional Government held a referendum for independence on September 25, resulting in heightened political tensions throughout the region. In response to the referendum, the GoI suspended international flight clearances in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region beginning on September 29. The referendum also prompted Kurdish security forces to temporarily halt returns from IDP camps in disputed areas. Relief actors continue to monitor the situation to prepare for potential humanitarian impacts related to the referendum.

In FY 2017, the USG provided more than $601 million in support of the Iraq humanitarian response, bringing total USG humanitarian assistance for conflictaffected Iraqis to more than $1.7 billion since 2014. The FY 2017 funding includes more than $294 million from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, nearly $239 million from U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and approximately $68 million from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace to provide humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected and other vulnerable Iraqis within the country, as well as Iraqi refugees in the region.








Total USAID and State Assistance to the Iraq Humanitarian Response in FY 2017


*These figures are current as of September 30, 2017


The situation within Iraq remained relatively stable until January 2014, when Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces began seizing control of parts of northern and central Iraq. Significant population displacement ensued as civilians fled to areas of relative safety, such as the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, to escape fighting. The ongoing conflict has displaced nearly 3.4 million people within Iraq since early 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In 2017, the UN estimates that 11 million people in Iraq require humanitarian assistance. Prolonged displacement is exhausting the resources of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host community members alike at a time when serious budgetary shortfalls due to low global oil prices are limiting the capacity of both the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government to respond to humanitarian needs. Meanwhile, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other relief actors face funding shortages, logistical challenges, and security constraints that complicate efforts to meet critical needs.

On August 11, 2014, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help coordinate USG efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs of newly displaced populations throughout Iraq. DART and U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) staff in Iraq work closely with local officials, the international community, and humanitarian actors to identify critical needs and expedite assistance to affected populations. To support the DART, USAID also established a Response Management Team (RMT) based in Washington, D.C.

On October 10, 2016, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas A. Silliman re-declared a disaster in Iraq for Fiscal Year 2017 due to the ongoing complex emergency and humanitarian crisis.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: October 17, 2017

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