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

More than 460,700 displaced Iraqis returned to areas of origin and other locations in December, according to U.S. government (USG) partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM). More than 3.2 million returns have occurred since 2014, while approximately 2.6 million Iraqis remain displaced, IOM reports. Relief actors have expressed concern regarding the accelerated rate of returns, given the lack of a formal returns strategy and assistance package, as well as the likelihood of involuntary returns. U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration partner the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that forced returns affected more than 1,300 households in Anbar, Baghdad, and Salah al-Din governorates in November and December.

In early December, USAID Counselor Thomas H. Staal visited Iraq to meet with representatives of ethnic and religious minority groups. During the visit, Counselor Staal highlighted USG development assistance to persecuted Iraqi minorities and humanitarian responsiveness to the needs of conflict-affected populations, particularly in Ninewa Governorate.

Relief organizations provided nearly 10,700 USAID-supported Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) kits—including food, hygiene items, and safe drinking water—to populations across Anbar, Erbil, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din governorates in December. In total, humanitarian organizations provided approximately 487,200 USAID-supported RRM kits to conflict-affected households in Iraq in 2017.













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


*These figures are current as of January 12, 2018


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: January 16, 2018

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