UNICEF photo: girls at desks with open school books © UNICEF Iraq/2015/Anmar Girls take lessons in a UNICEF-supported school in Missan, Iraq.


In 2016, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children received structured, sustained resilience or psychosocial support programmes


displaced children received learning materials

2 million

people newly displaced by conflict received Rapid Response Mechanism kits within 72 hours of the trigger for response

2016 Requirements: US$101,191,212

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Total affected population: 10 million
Total affected children: 5.2 million

Total people to be reached in 2016: 2 million
Total children to be reached in 2016: 1.4 million

Iraq is facing a significant displacement crisis. In addition to the more than 244,000 Syrian refugees inside the country, nearly 3.2 million people are internally displaced in Iraq as a result of ongoing violence.1 Overall, it is estimated that 11 million Iraqis, nearly half of them children, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Inside camps, only 50 per cent of children have access to schools, while outside of camps, that figure is even lower. UNICEF estimates that one in every five schools is not functional and those that are operating are overcrowded. More than 600,000 displaced children have missed an entire school year, placing girls at increased risk of early marriage and other forms of gender-based violence. Boys are vulnerable to becoming child labourers and remain at risk of recruitment into armed groups. Since the start of 2014, more than 2,600 children have suffered grave violations of their rights, including killing, maiming and abduction. Compounding the effects of the crisis, cholera returned to Iraq in 2015 with over 4,000 confirmed cases, 20 per cent of which were children. Water and sanitation infrastructure remains weak in many areas and hospitals have been destroyed in the conflict. Public health services are overwhelmed, leaving pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children at higher risk of poor health. The Government’s capacity to respond is stretched, placing the burden on humanitarian actors to meet increasing needs.

Humanitarian strategy

2016 Programme Targets

Health and nutrition

  • 5.6 million children immunized against polio3
  • 283,700 internally displaced children immunized against measles
  • 384,000 children accessed growth monitoring services


  • 823,000 people, including vulnerable, at-risk displaced populations in and out of camps, reached with clean water, safe toilets and hygiene products

Child protection

  • 131,200 children received structured, sustained resilience or psychosocial support programmes
  • 27,900 children received specialized protection services


  • 550,000 displaced children received learning materials
  • 22,330 displaced children accessed learning (in temporary learning spaces)
  • 5,000 teachers trained

Cash transfer

  • 14,655 most vulnerable households received child-focused cash transfers

Rapid Response Mechanism

  • 2 million people newly displaced by conflict received RRM kits within 72 hours of the trigger for response

In line with the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan, UNICEF is working to increase access to safe learning spaces, quality education and sustained psychosocial support for the most vulnerable children; sustain health and nutrition interventions with a focus on women and children; provide safe water, appropriate sanitation and suitable hygiene support; alleviate the immediate basic needs of families on the move through the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM); and support resilience through direct cash transfers to most vulnerable families in and out of camps. UNICEF is also facilitating coordination for more effective humanitarian response through its leadership of the education and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) clusters, and its participation in the child protection and nutrition working groups. Collaboration also continues with emergency mechanisms for central and regional governments, United Nations agencies, international non-governmental organizations and local partners. The response to Syrian refugees is being carried out under the regional No Lost Generation initiative and is detailed in the Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 chapter on Syrian refugees.2

Results from 2015

As of 31 October 2015, UNICEF had received 35 per cent, or US$56.2 million, of the US$160 million 2015 appeal, in addition to US$3,204,322 carried forward from 2014. Since the conflict began in 2014, UNICEF has reached nearly 70,000 children with psychosocial support services through child-friendly spaces. More than 900 children have been reunited with their families or placed in protective care while relatives were traced. More than 290,000 children have continued learning in safe spaces supported by UNICEF and partners, and over 2,000 education personnel were trained to provide psychosocial support in school. Although critical underfunding jeopardized activities in mid-2015, 5.5 million children were vaccinated against polio in nationwide campaigns and more than 12,000 newborns and mothers received home-based care services in the 28 days after birth. Over 2.3 million people gained access to safe water through water treatment tablets, bottled water or larger-scale infrastructure work. Targeted cash transfers increased in scale, and helped provide more than 21,000 families with greater autonomy to meet their own needs. As mass displacement continued, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) reached more than 4 million newly displaced and re-displaced people with RRM packages containing the basics for immediate survival. Before the 2015–2016 winter is over, UNICEF intends to provide 450,000 internally displaced children with appropriate clothing to better protect them from the risks of winter.

Funding requirements

In 2016, UNICEF requires US$101,191,212 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Iraq, in line with Iraq’s inter-agency 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support essential routine vaccination services for children, offer psychosocial support to children under stress, or improve access to and the quality of education for school-age Iraqis. Lack of funding would also mean that life-saving and dignity-raising packages for populations on the move would be cut, and direct cash support to the most vulnerable would be reduced. UNICEF’s response to Syrian refugees is outlined in the Iraq chapter of the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan and the corresponding Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 chapter on Syrian refugees.

1 United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: Syrian refugees’, UNICEF, 2015,, accessed 14 December 2015.
2 Ibid.
3 This polio target is for a much larger population than that affected by polio or targeted by UNICEF.