An oil-rich country, Iraq has seen its economic potential constrained by recurring conflicts. In recent years, four million people have been uprooted and are now internally displaced. The fighting has deepened insecurity, rolled back development and exacerbated vulnerabilities. Many Iraqis have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and in Europe. Beset by violence, social disruption and economic hardship, thousands of Iraqi families are in desperate need of food assistance.
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Most displaced people are living without adequate access to food, water and other essentials. In addition, an estimated quarter of a million Syrian refugees have sought refuge in northern Iraq, placing additional pressure on limited resources. At least 2.4 million people require some sort of food assistance in Iraq; some 10 million need humanitarian assistance in general. But a volatile security landscape means access by humanitarian actors is challenging.
Despite adverse conditions, the Iraqi population has grown rapidly to an estimated 38 million, living on a surface area of 437,000 km square that ranges from mountains to desert. With the world’s fourth largest hydrocarbon reserves, the oil sector dominates the economy. But it too has suffered from the continuing conflict and political disputes, as well as a legacy of underinvestment and collapsing prices.
WFP has been operating in Iraq since 1991. Since April 2014, through emergency operations, we have provided food assistance to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrian refugees forced from their homes by recent violence.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Iraq
Mosul IDP Emergency
Since the start of the military operation to retake the city from so-called Islamic (IS), the Mosul crisis continues to evolve in complexity. Humanitarian needs are severe among displaced families in and out of camps, vulnerable residents of newly retaken communities, and people fleeing the intense fighting in the city. WFP and partners are providing ready-to-eat food and monthly food rations to people affected by the conflict.
WFP assists internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq through three means: family food rations, cash-based transfers and immediate response rations. Over 310,000 people receive cash-based transfers through electronic SCOPE cards, which offer displaced Iraqis as well as Syrian refugees the choice to decide what they buy and eat. This electronic platform allows WFP to provide food flexibly and adapt to the rapidly changing situation.
Emergency Telecommunications Support
Led by WFP, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is providing lifesaving radio and Internet connectivity services to humanitarian responders across the country. These services help ensure the safety and security of staff and allow humanitarians to work and access vital information, enabling them to provide better support to the thousands of people in need.
Through the logistics cluster, WFP leads and coordinates preparedness and planning to address logistics challenges such as storage capacity and restriction of movement in hard-to-reach areas. These efforts help enhance logistics services, information sharing and responsiveness of humanitarian actors towards the needs of the affected population.
As part of WFP’s regional emergency operation to assist Syrian refugees who fled conflict, WFP supports more than 50,000 vulnerable Syrians in Iraq who cannot meet their food needs without external support. Through electronic food SCOPE cards, families have the choice to decide what they buy and eat.