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.
- The humanitarian situation in Iraq is largely a legacy of the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that resulted in millions of Iraqis displaced. Overall, 2.5 million people, including 1.1 million children, continue to need humanitarian assistance, including 960,000 people (422,400 children) with acute humanitarian needs.
- The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with protracted and multiple displacements, has adversely impacted the access to basic services.
- UNICEF’s overall humanitarian strategy is to continue to support the remaining populations in humanitarian need while adopting longer-term durable solutions to meet the needs of children and families as they re-establish their lives in Iraq.
- UNICEF is requesting US$52.2 million in 2022 (21 per cent less than 2021) to meet the critical and acute humanitarian needs of vulnerable children and families affected by a combination of humanitarian situations, including protracted crisis due to conflict, political instability and the COVID-19 situation.
Key planned results for 2022
738,000 children and women accessing health care
449,300 people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water
447,786 children accessing educational services
350,000 people reached through messaging on prevention and access to services
Funding requirements for 2022
Country needs and strategy
The humanitarian situation in Iraq is largely a legacy of the 2014-2017 conflict with ISIS. As the conflict took hold in Iraq and ISIS gained control over territory, particularly in the west and southwest of Iraq, millions of Iraqis were displaced. As of 31 July 2021, there are 1.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs), while 4.9 million are returnees to 2,156 locations in eight governorates.
With the abrupt closure of the camps that started in October 2020, the number of in-camp individuals dropped from 256,861 in August 2020 to 182,000 in October 2021, while the out-of-camp IDPs reached over 1 million, including 370,000 living in self-settled and informal sites, often widely dispersed and with little access to services. Overall, 2.5 million people, including 1.1 million children and 5.6 per cent people with disabilities, continue to need humanitarian assistance. Approximately 960,000 people (422,400 children) are considered to be in acute humanitarian need.
In line with the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview, the overall number of people and children in need has decreased compared to 2021. This is due to the reduced humanitarian impact of COVID-19, as well as a rebalancing between humanitarian and development needs, taking into account the recent finalization and signing of the United Nations sustainable development cooperation framework.
An estimated 680,000 IDP and returnee children face obstacles accessing education, such as absence of civil documentation, lack of access to internet or connectivity devices; 660,000 children are in need of child protection services, while 920,000 women and children have needs related to gender-based violence. At present, more than 1.6 million people need support for WASH services. In addition, Iraq is anticipated to face severe water scarcity in 2022, including lower groundwater levels and reduced flows in the main rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, which could reach 50 per cent below crisis thresholds. An estimated 15 percent of the children in need (119,000) children, could be affected by water scarcity.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with protracted and multiple displacements, has adversely impacted access to basic services and continues to affect the physical and mental well-being and capacity for resilience and recovery of women and children in Iraq, while also exposing them to significant protection concerns. The current situation, added to the existing social and gender norms, has exacerbated conditions for communities and young people, disrupting learning and skills development and participation in society, and fracturing social networks. COVID-19 containment measures have impacted the livelihoods of families, exposing children to increased risks of child labour and child marriage.
UNICEF will continue reaching vulnerable IDP populations in humanitarian need, while working with the Government and partners to implement longer-term, durable solutions to support returnee families. Interventions will be balanced across the country, taking into account the geographic locations of IDPs and returnees across Iraq, including Kurdistan Region.
Access to relevant health and nutrition services, including antenatal and post-natal care, immunization, nutrition screening and counselling and management of malnutrition, will particularly target newborns, infants and young children, pregnant and lactating women and their partners. COVID-19 infection prevention and control, including vaccination, will continue.
Back-to-Learning campaigns will include delivery of blended learning, education supplies, safe school operation and life skills. Young boys and girls (aged 10-24 years) will have opportunities to develop a range of life skills, including digital, innovation, employability and entrepreneurial skills, and implement civic engagement initiatives.
UNICEF will strengthen child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) mechanisms, including case management referral systems and engagement with communities to ensure context-specific solutions. Access for children to relevant mental health and psychosocial support services and legal assistance will be enhanced. Intervention strategies will consciously engage boys and men to address social norms that underlie violence against children and women. UNICEF will develop the capacity of government counterparts on child protection and GBV competencies.
UNICEF will work with government and NGO partners to ensure continuation of WASH services to IDP populations while developing more cost-effective and sustainable solutions in community settings. This will include preparedness and response to water scarcity in affected locations.
UNICEF will scale up risk communication and community engagement to promote positive behavior change. Mechanisms to enhance accountability to affected populations (AAP) will be strengthened. Across all sectors, gender and disability inclusive programming will ensure that the special needs of girls and boys and people with disabilities are addressed.
UNICEF will improve efforts on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), including referral of complaints, establishment and review of policies/guidance, and implementation of the PSEA action plan priorities for Iraq.
Emergency preparedness activities will focus particularly on addressing the impacts of water scarcity, disease outbreaks including cholera, as well as working with Government to enhance capacity for responding to other potential emergency events. I
n line with the humanitarian-development-peace nexus approach, UNICEF will work with all relevant partners in ensuring that the humanitarian strategy is compatible and synergistic with the durable solutions components that have been included in the United Nations sustainable development cooperation framework, recently signed by the UN agencies and the Government of Iraq.
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.