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

Critical relief programs supporting millions of vulnerable Iraqi households are at risk of halting due to the continued suspension of Government of Iraq (GoI) access authorizations for relief organizations operating in Federal Iraq, the UN reports. The suspension has delayed or prevented the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to many areas since December, affecting an estimated 2.4 million people. The UN, nongovernmental organizations, and humanitarian donors are advocating for the GoI to ensure the unfettered delivery of emergency assistance for conflict-affected populations throughout Iraq.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported a significant increase in the number of IDP returns to areas of origin during September and October compared with July and August, likely due to scaled-up camp consolidation and closure efforts during the period. However, returns have since reverted to a reduced rate as camp closures and consolidations have slowed. An estimated 4.59 million people had returned to areas of origin as of December 31, IOM reports.

The UN released the 2020 Iraq Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) in midNovember, identifying 4.1 million people in need of emergency assistance—a nearly 40 percent decrease from the 6.7 million people identified in the 2019 HNO. As the humanitarian response increasingly shifts toward finding durable solutions for populations displaced by conflict, the HNO emphasizes the need to assist returnees and out-of-camp internally displaced persons, including by addressing continued protection issues and ensuring access to basic services, shelter, and livelihoods to advance recovery and build resilience.









Total USAID and State Assistance to the Iraq Humanitarian Response in FY 2019


*These figures are current as of September 30, 2019


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).

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 are working 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.

Although major military operations against ISIS in Iraq have ended, approximately 1.67 million people remain displaced and these Iraqis are among the most vulnerable as many have been displaced for more than three years and will likely face significant challenges returning home. USAID is committed to help them safely return to their communities and will continue to provide assistance to displaced people as well as the increasing number of returnees.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: February 24, 2020

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