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

Relief actors, including U.S. Government partners, are providing winter assistance to vulnerable populations across Iraq. The humanitarian community also continues to engage with the Government of Iraq to address critical gaps, particularly shelter assistance and kerosene needed for winter heating. As of mid-December, partners of the Shelter/Non-Food Item Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian shelter and non-food item activities, comprising UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders—had provided assistance to nearly 90,000 households, approximately 80 percent of the cluster’s goal for the 2018/2019 winter season.

Approximately 6.7 million Iraqis will require humanitarian assistance in the coming year, according to the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Protection of vulnerable individuals remains a priority in 2019, with significant challenges hindering the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly those who may be perceived to have affiliations to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, often due to the stigmatization associated with their areas of origin or familial ties. The HNO also emphasizes the need to improve the quality of basic services and infrastructure and increase income-generating opportunities for sustained IDP returns.

While nearly 4.2 million people had returned to areas of origin as of mid-December, 1.8 million people remained displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration. The rate of IDP returns has slowed in recent months, and only 9 percent of IDPs residing in formal settlements intend to return to areas of origin by mid-2019, according to a mid-2018 survey. As a result, many displaced Iraqis will continue to rely on humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs in the coming year.









Total USAID and State Assistance to the Iraq Humanitarian Response in FY 2018


*These figures are current as of February 8, 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).

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: February 13, 2019

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