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

In early July, USAID Administrator Mark Green traveled to Iraq with a U.S. Government (USG) delegation to visit ethnic and religious communities in northern Iraq. During the visit, the delegation met with Yazidi families displaced from Ninewa Governorate’s Sinjar District at Dahuk Governorate’s Khanke internally displaced person (IDP) camp, political and religious leaders, and faith-based and local non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives to discuss ways that the USG can help facilitate minority communities’ safe return to areas of origin.

As of July 15, nearly 2 million people remained displaced across Iraq, while more than 3.9 million people countrywide had returned to areas of origin and other sites, according to the International Organization for Migration. Insecurity, damaged or destroyed homes, and a lack of livelihoods opportunities in areas of origin remain primary obstacles to IDP returns. Meanwhile, the humanitarian community continues to engage with the Government of Iraq (GoI) and governorate returns committees to coordinate plans for camp closures and consolidations and advocate for safe, voluntary, and dignified IDP returns.

Explosive hazard contamination remains a critical threat to returnee populations, particularly in Ninewa’s city of Mosul. Between July 10, 2017—when the GoI regained control of the city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—and the beginning of May 2018, an international NGO recorded nearly 130 explosive hazards incidents, more than 80 of which caused nearly 190 civilian casualties.

Since mid-August, nearly 50,000 cases of gastrointestinal illness caused by contaminated water consumption have been recorded in southern Iraq’s Basrah governorate. The illness is a result of biological and chemical contaminants and high water salinity. On September 10, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas A. Silliman declared a disaster due to the health emergency resulting from the high levels of gastrointestinal illness in Basrah. USAID is coordinating with the GoI to address immediate needs and supporting efforts to bolster the capabilities of the federal and governorate health and water services.









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


*These figures are current as of July 20, 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: September 21, 2018

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