Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Following the 2014–2017 conflict, which displaced over 6 million people, an estimated 5.6 million people, including 2.6 million children, need humanitarian assistance in Iraq. The country is also severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, with nearly 287,000 confirmed cases and over 7,900 deaths.
- UNICEF’s multi-pronged humanitarian strategy in Iraq includes the provision of integrated critical services to save young lives and system strengthening for a sustained impact. To support an effective transition from humanitarian assistance to longer-term development, UNICEF will facilitate strong linkages between humanitarian action and development programming.
- UNICEF is requesting US$70.8 million to meet the critical and acute humanitarian needs of children and families affected by a combination of humanitarian situations, including protracted crisis due to conflict, political instability and the COVID-19 situation. The response will focus both on prevention and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
Key planned results for 2021
2.7 million children vaccinated against polio
577,108 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
190,303 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
447,786 children accessing educational services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq stems primarily from the 2014–2017 conflict, which led to the displacement of 6 million people. There has been a steady stream of returnees, with 4.7 million people returning to their places of origin, and 1.4 million people still displaced. Overall, 5.6 million people, including 2.6 million children, continue to need humanitarian assistance. This includes 1.8 million people (814,000 children and 15 per cent people with disabilities) facing acute humanitarian needs.
The political, economic and social instability in Iraq is challenging the humanitarian response. Between October 2019 and April 2020, major demonstrations against the Government led to the resignation of the Prime Minister and political paralysis during several attempts to form a new government. Security remains a major concern, with continued attacks and violence. Recent assassinations of human rights activists in the south illustrate the fragility of the situation. Obtaining access permissions for humanitarian agencies remains challenging.
The country is severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 13 September 2020, there are 287,000 confirmed cases and over 7,900 deaths. The south and centre of the country – notably Baghdad, Basra and Karbala – are the worst affected.
The reduction in oil prices has led to a severe economic downturn, which has further exacerbated humanitarian needs for the most vulnerable. The number of children living below the poverty line has doubled to 38 per cent. While maternal mortality has declined, neonatal deaths remain high (56 per cent of under-five mortality). At least 200,000 infants are missing out on routine life-saving vaccinations against preventable childhood diseases.
Ongoing school closures due to COVID-19 are affecting 10 million children. Some 1.6 million children are in need of child protection and gender-based violence support due to both COVID-19 and displacement. According to a remote monitoring exercise conducted by UNICEF in May 2020, commonly reported issues include lack of access to education (83 per cent); stress, fear and anxiety (51 per cent); child labour (26 per cent); and violence, abuse or neglect within the household (24 per cent).
While more than 86 per cent of people in Iraq have access to basic drinking water, only 39 per cent have access to safely managed water services. Only 24 per cent of the population has access to safely managed sanitation services.
UNICEF’s multi-pronged humanitarian strategy in Iraq includes the provision of integrated critical services to save young lives and system strengthening for a sustained impact. The response will focus on those made most vulnerable by the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the Humanitarian Country Team strategy, and the five-year country programme between UNICEF and the Government, UNICEF will facilitate strong linkages between its humanitarian action and development work to enhance sustainability and support the transition from a humanitarian assistance framework to a longer-term development approach.
Protection will remain central to the response. UNICEF will adopt a holistic/multi-sectoral case management approach, integrating gender-based violence risk mitigation and promoting resilience and recovery. The prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse will be mainstreamed through awareness-raising activities and by promoting the accessibility of secure and safe reporting channels.
UNICEF will improve access to life-saving interventions and essential services in sectors in which it has a comparative advantage, namely health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, child protection and social protection. Communication for development will cut across this work to facilitate linkages with affected populations. UNICEF will integrate the COVID-19 response both in humanitarian response plans and longer-term development programming to improve synergies and complementarities. Across sectors, gender- and disability-inclusive programming will ensure that the special needs of girls and boys and people with disabilities are addressed.
UNICEF will also rehabilitate and upgrade physical/digital infrastructure; reach people with messages on prevention and access to services; and provide critical supplies in camp health care facilities, for returnees and high-risk communities and to address waterborne diseases and COVID-19. UNICEF will build the capacities of the Government and civil society partners to identify, prepare for and respond to crises/shocks and integrate an adolescent/youth-centred approach into humanitarian response to ensure that youth are systematically engaged.
UNICEF will partner with sister United Nations agencies and civil society partners in line with the Humanitarian Response Plan and the Durable Solutions Action Plan. As part of the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group, UNICEF will lead the WASH and education clusters and the child protection sub-cluster and engage as a key member in the health cluster. UNICEF will continue to provide leadership and coordination on risk communication and community engagement, as per the United Nations Country Team decision to delegate this role to UNICEF, and in line with its robust communication, advocacy and community engagement strategies.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Iraq; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.