Years of conflict have hindered Iraq’s economic development. Since 2014, the occupation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq has resulted in the displacement of more than three million people. When, two years later, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched a military offensive to regain control, fighting deepened insecurity, rolled back development and exacerbated vulnerabilities. Many Iraqis sought refuge in neighbouring countries and in Europe. Beset by violence, social disruption and economic hardship, thousands of Iraqi families were left in desperate need of food assistance.
Although many are now returning home every month, around 700,000 Iraqis are still living in camps with little possibilities to earn an income enabling them to put food on the table.
Despite adverse conditions, the Iraqi population has grown rapidly to an estimated 37 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 1968. 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 conflict.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Iraq
Food assistanceWFP provides food assistance through family food rations – which include basic food items such as wheat flour, rice, beans, bulgur and oil – or cash transfers for people to buy food where it is available. 56,000 Syrian refugees and over 230,000 displaced Iraqis receive cash every month through e-vouchers or WFP’s electronic SCOPE card. Immediate response rations with ready to eat food are provided to people fleeing areas where fighting is still ongoing.
InnovationMore people are registered on WFP’s beneficiary management and transfer platform, known as SCOPE, in Iraq than in any other country in the region. This technology helps humanitarian assistance to be more efficient and accurate, while enhancing data protection. Several other humanitarian agencies and organizations use WFP’s SCOPE platform to manage their assistance in Iraq.
NutritionIn order to treat and prevent malnutrition in young children who spent significant periods of time living under ISIL, WFP provided ready-to-use food supplements to families arriving in camps or when they sought assistance from government-run clinics.
Humanitarian leadershipWFP leads the Logistics and Emergency Telecommunications (ETC) Clusters, which coordinate responses to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of assistance for the entire humanitarian community in Iraq. We are also co-leading the Food Security Cluster with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Support to Syrian refugeesAs part of the regional response to the Syrian refugee crisis, WFP provides cash transfers to 56,000 Syrian refugees in nine camps across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with distributions managed through WFP’s electronic SCOPE platform. In August 2017, 100 Syrians in Arbat refugee camp completed a course in digital skills and working online as part of a programme to enhance their employability. WFP has been supporting Syrian refugees in Iraq since 2012.