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UNICEF photo: a boy looks up from making a drawing on a piece of paper © UNICEF Iraq/2017/Anmar Raja, 7, plays in a UNICEF-supported youth centre in Kirkuk, Iraq.


In 2018, UNICEF and partners plan for:
1.3 million

emergency-affected people, including 611,000 children, provided with sufficient safe water as per agreed standards

1.2 million

children under 5 vaccinated against polio

1.03 million

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

2018 Requirements: US$101,151,160

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Total people in need: 8.7 million1
Total children (<18) in need: 4.1 million

Total people to be reached in 2018: 2.24 million
Total children to be reached in 2018: 1.2 million

Nearly 9 million people in Iraq require humanitarian assistance, including 5 million people who are in critical need of safe water.2 Although 2 million people have returned to their homes,3 3 million people remain displaced, including 1.4 million children.4 In 2018, the humanitarian community anticipates a reduction in armed violence, though new displacements may continue to occur in complex patterns5 and the trend of increasing returns to retaken areas is expected to continue. Maintaining camp services such as water supply, sanitation facilities, schools and protective spaces for displaced children and their families is essential but costly, as is ensuring critical services for returnees. Children remain highly vulnerable and protection concerns are significant. Nearly half of the population of internally displaced school-aged children—some 335,000 children—are out of school.6 Children who have lived in areas formerly held by the armed group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are in need of psychosocial support, vaccinations, support to re-enter school, and safe spaces to play. Outside of camps, Iraq’s public services remain overstretched, with water and sanitation networks damaged by war or neglect and overburdened health systems struggling to serve displaced children and families.

Humanitarian strategy

2018 programme targets

Rapid Response Mechanism and winterization response

  • 1.03 million vulnerable people displaced by conflict receiving RRM kits within 72 hours of trigger for response
  • 200,000 children with warm winter clothing


  • 1.3 million emergency-affected people, including 611,000 children, provided with sufficient safe water as per agreed standards
  • 300,000 people accessing appropriate sanitation facilities


  • 450,000 school-aged children accessing quality education, including through temporary structures

Child protection

  • 186,300 children and caregivers reached with psychosocial support
  • 18,630 girls and boys accessing specialized protection services


  • 50,000 children under 5 accessing nutrition services


  • 1.2 million children under 5 vaccinated against polio10
  • 18,000 children under 1 vaccinated against measles

Cash assistance

  • 15,000 children from vulnerable families receiving child-focused cash transfers11

The UNICEF strategy in Iraq is aligned with the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). 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 (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and is an active member of the health cluster. UNICEF will take a flexible approach to reaching people in need in Iraq, regardless of location. Families on the move will be reached through the RRM, and people in retaken communities will be reached with a multi-sectoral response during conflict or after it subsides. Access to safe water, gender-sensitive sanitation facilities and hygiene awareness will be supported in camps, host communities and retaken areas where people remain or return. Children under 5 years will receive immunization and nutrition services, especially in areas recently affected by conflict. UNICEF will expand access to safe and quality education, particularly in retaken areas, and facilitate sustained psychosocial support and protection services for children in need and their caregivers. UNICEF will work with United Nations and government partners to carry out cash-based interventions, and with non-governmental organizations and government emergency bodies to support capacity building for longer-term recovery.

Results from 2017

As of 31 October 2017, UNICEF had US$125.9 million available against the US$161.4 million appeal (75 per cent funded).7 Complementary resources were used to fund technical support needs not covered by emergency funding. The significant number of new displacements and the adoption of low-cost, high-impact interventions resulted in achievements beyond planned targets for RRM, water, education and child protection. First-line response through the RRM reached 2.3 million displaced and vulnerable people as violence intensified across Iraq. More than 1.8 million people in conflict-affected governorates accessed safe water, primarily through water trucking. Child protection teams provided psychosocial support to 332,000 children, and the use of community-based interventions helped to reduce operational costs. Grave child rights violations were monitored, verified and documented through the strengthened Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, which informed evidence-based advocacy.8 Some 274,000 children, including malnourished children leaving occupied areas, benefitted from expanded rapid nutrition screening. Although lack of learning spaces, crowded classrooms and the displacement of education staff impacted education progress, accelerated e-Learning strategies helped out-of-school children return to learning. UNICEF cash assistance, designed based on joint United Nations vulnerability assessments, reached 7,400 children and expanded into new governorates using a mobile money partnership9 that significantly reduced overhead costs.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US $101,151,160 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Iraq in 2018.12 Without adequate and timely funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing protection crisis. This includes the provision of critical WASH services for internally displaced persons and returning populations facing the spread of cholera, and health services to ensure children are immunized against childhood diseases. Basic supplies and classroom space are also urgently needed to uphold children’s right to education. Child-focused cash assistance will support parents and caregivers to feed, clothe and educate their children.

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1 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘2018 Iraq Humanitarian Needs Overview’, OCHA, 2017. Children make up 47 per cent of the population.
2 Ibid.
3 International Organization for Migration Displacement Tracking Matrix, 15 October 2017.
4 Ibid.
5 Patterns of displacement may occur such that individuals are affected by multiple displacements and many internally displaced persons may return to their areas of origin.
6 United Nations Children’s Fund, The Costs and Benefit of Education in Iraq: An analysis of the education sector and strategies to maximize the benefits of education, UNICEF, 2017.
7 Available funds include US$84.3 million raised against the current appeal and US$41.6 million carried forward from the previous year. In addition, US$274,159 of regular resources and US$2.8 other resources-regular were used to meet critical humanitarian needs during the appeal year.
8 Monitoring of children in conflict verified 11 reports of grave violations against child rights in October 2017 alone that affected 41 children (15 boys and 26 girls). The verified incidents included killing of four children and injuring of 31. Other incidents involved sexual violence against girls. Sources: United Nations Children's Fund, Nowhere To Go: Children in Iraq trapped in cycles of violence, UNICEF, 2017; and United Nations Children's Fund, 'Iraq Humanitarian Situation Report', UNICEF, October 2017.
9 In 2017 UNICEF entered into a new partnership with a national mobile network provider who facilitates UNICEF-supported cash transfer via mobile phones. This has increased accessibility for people in need, improved the reliability, timeliness and security for cash assistance delivery, and contributed to reducing UNICEF operational costs.
10 The overall target for the 2017 Humanitarian Action for Children appeal was established based on the polio immunization target of all children under 5 years old in Iraq (5.7 million), of which UNICEF supported the immunization of 5.6 million children. For 2018, the polio immunization target has been reduced to 1.2 million because UNICEF will focus on the most recently conflict-affected governorates of Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al Din.
11 UNICEF cash assistance targets vulnerable families with children who are identified as at risk of dropping out of school, or who have already dropped out. The child-focused cash assistance is a monthly payment intended to support the removal of financial barriers to children's education or child-focused spending.
12 The UNICEF requirement in Iraq is higher than its portion of the Iraq HRP as UNICEF interventions will target larger populations than the HRP.