Years of conflict have hindered Iraq’s economic development. In recent years, 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 and has led to a military offensive. 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.
Many 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 800,000 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 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
Since the start of the military operation to retake Mosul city from ISIL, over 190,000 people have been displaced to camps and tens of thousands to host villages. WFP and partners are providing ready-to-eat emergency food as soon as it is possible to access people. Families then receive monthly food rations when they are settled in camps or host communities, with access to cooking facilities.
As markets are functioning well in many parts of the country, WFP is increasing cash-based assistance, which is now being provided to 340,000 displaced Iraqis and 55,000 Syrian refugees. This assistance is provided through vouchers and an electronic SCOPE card, which can be used as a bank card to pay in designated stores and, in some cases, to withdraw unrestricted cash.
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.