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UNICEF photo: two girls stand huddled together, one holds a box; a third girl walks away from camera © UNICEF/Iraq/2016/Anmar Aya and Sarah fled conflict in Mosul and arrived in Khazir Displacement Camp. The next day, they received emergency food, water and hygiene supplies distributed by UNICEF partner the Norwegian Refugee Council.


In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
1.3 million

vulnerable people newly displaced by conflict receiving RRM kits within 72 hours of trigger for response

5.7 million

children under 5 vaccinated against polio (campaign)

1 million

emergency-affected people accessing sufficient safe water supply, with access to functional sanitation, and receiving hygiene kits

2017 Requirements: US$161,400,000

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Total people in need: 11 million1
Total children (<18) in need: 5.1 million (47 per cent of 11 million)2

Total people to be reached in 2017: 5.8 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 5.7 million

As many as 11 million people in Iraq require humanitarian assistance and more than 3 million remain displaced, including at least 1.4 million children.3 More than 1 million people have returned to homes devastated by conflict or occupation.4 The conflict intensified in 2016, with one child in five at risk of death, injury, sexual violence, recruitment into armed conflict or abduction.5 Maintaining basic services for people displaced in camps or host communities is costly, and children who have lived under occupation for more than two years require water, schools, vaccinations and safe spaces to play and learn. The continued economic downturn has affected government financial capacity to take on the planned transfer of responsibility. Weak water and sanitation networks and overburdened public health services are struggling to serve areas hosting large numbers of displaced children and families, threatening a rise in preventable disease incidence. At least 70 per cent of displaced children have lost an entire year of school.6

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets

RRM and winterization

  • 1.3 million vulnerable people newly displaced by conflict receiving RRM kits within 72 hours of trigger for response
  • 200,000 children protected from the risks of winter


  • 1 million emergency-affected people accessing sufficient safe water supply, with access to functional sanitation, and receiving hygiene kits


  • 690,000 girls and boys receiving education supplies and/or teaching/learning materials
  • 50,000 children reached through temporary learning spaces (pre-fabricated)
  • 100,000 out-of-school children aged 6 to 17 years accessing education

Child protection

  • 161,567 children participating in structured and sustained resilience or psychosocial support programmes
  • 14,065 children receiving specialized services
  • 9,000 women and girls receiving gender-based violence services

Health and nutrition

  • 5.7 million children under 5 vaccinated against polio (campaign)
  • 50,000 children under 5 accessing nutrition services
  • 50,000 children under 1 vaccinated against measles (routine)

Cash transfer

  • 9,000 most-vulnerable households receiving cash assistance

The UNICEF response in Iraq is aligned with the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan. UNICEF leads the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education clusters, the child protection sub-cluster and the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) with the World Food Programme, and is an active member of the health cluster. UNICEF reaches families on the move through the RRM and assists people in newly retaken communities through a multi-sectoral response, days after conflict subsides. UNICEF supports access to safe water and gender-sensitive sanitation and hygiene awareness in communities; ensures immunization and nutrition services for children under 5; increases access to safe and quality education; and facilitates sustained psychosocial support and protection services for children in need. The shifting humanitarian context requires a flexible response strategy aimed at reaching people in need regardless of their location. In Iraq, UNICEF also emphasizes support for resilience-focused interventions.

Results in 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$138.1 million against the US$179 million appeal (82 per cent funded).7 Despite the US$51 million received for WASH, the cost of ongoing maintenance for services remained high for existing internally displaced persons and for newly-accessible populations. Although cost-efficient outreach was strengthened through 15 WASH service centres, more support is required as people in need spread over larger areas. The health and nutrition programmes remained underfunded by 41 per cent, which limited progress. Lack of learning spaces, overcrowded classrooms and the displacement of education staff impacted progress in education. Reaching out-of-school children remained a challenge. As the conflict continued and risks to children remained significant, UNICEF strengthened psychosocial support for children by increasing mobile child protection teams. Cash transfer outreach was constrained by conflict and lack of operating partners. UNICEF reached more than 118,000 people affected by the Mosul city offensive with immediate relief items and more than 156,000 people with safe water, and vaccinated more than 13,500 children under 15 against measles.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$161.4 million for the period of January to December 2017 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Iraq. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing complex and protracted displacement crisis through first-line rapid response for populations on the move; critical WASH services; health and nutrition support in and out of camps; essential protection and education support for children affected by violence and conflict; and targeted cash transfer for the most vulnerable families.

1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘2016 Iraq Humanitarian Needs Overview’ OCHA.
2 Children make up an estimated 47 per cent of the affected population in Iraq.
3 International Organization for Migration Displacement Tracking Matrix.
4 Ibid.
5 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Heavy Price for Children: Violence Destroys Childhoods in Iraq, UNICEF, 2016.
6 Ibid.
7 Available funds include funding received against the current appeal of US$86.1 million and US$52 million carried forward from the previous year.