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

Following the late-November Government of Iraq (GoI) suspension of monthly national non-governmental organization (NGO) access authorizations, many relief actors remain unable to fully implement life-saving programs in Federal Iraq, the UN reports. As of early May, approximately 10 organizations were awaiting national access letter approval from the GoI, according to the UN.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reports more than 2,500 confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and 102 associated deaths in Iraq as of May 8. Cases in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region have spiked since the easing of COVID-19-related movement restrictions, with 52 cases confirmed between April 22 and May 6, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Meanwhile, prevention measures—
including border closures and movement restrictions—have impeded relief operations. Uneven application of humanitarian exemptions from most movement restrictions has prompted nearly 40 percent of NGOs to suspend activities, according to the NGO
Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) March assessment. Access restrictions affected more than 1 million people in need during March, the UN reports.

Despite access constraints, U.S. Government partners are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq. USAID partners are adjusting ongoing humanitarian programs to respond to COVID-19, including by conducting hygiene promotion campaigns, delivering medicalcommodities to health facilities, and distributing hygiene kits to populations in need. With support from State/PRM and other donors, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is distributing dignity kits containing hygiene items to individuals in camps, training health personnel on COVID-19 response protocols, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to its staff.


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: September 10, 2020

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