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
Since the start of the military operation to retake Mosul city from ISIL in October 2016, more than 1 million people have been displaced. Fleeing families have received from WFP ready-to-eat emergency food and, once settled in camps with access to cooking facilities, monthly food rations or cash assistance. At the height of the operation, in the spring of 2017, WFP provided monthly assistance to 1.6 million people.
As markets are functioning well in many parts of the country, WFP is increasingly resorting to cash assistance, reaching 56,000 Syrian refugees and over 230,000 displaced Iraqis every month. E-vouchers enable families to shop in camp supermarkets, and an electronic SCOPE card can be used as a bank card to pay in designated stores and, in some cases, to withdraw unrestricted cash. An increasing number of families get their money through a mobile money transfer mechanism.