UNICEF believes all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.
In 1984, UNICEF established an office in Iraq. In 1990, following the first Gulf war, UNICEF implemented an emergency programme to meet the humanitarian needs of children and women. Throughout the sanctions era of the 1990s, UNICEF focused on rehabilitating social services, providing life-saving therapeutic feeding to severely malnourished children and assisting the most vulnerable children. In 1997, via the “Oil for Food” programme, UNICEF addressed the deteriorating health situation of children, the increasing number of school drop-outs and the protection of children deprived of care.
From 2003-2008, UNICEF ensured emergency access to water and sanitation, primary health care, nutrition, education and child protection services for millions of children and women affected by extreme violence. In 2009, UNICEF reoriented its country programme to support the Government of Iraq develop child-friendly social policies, modernize its institutions and improve the nationwide delivery of basic services critical to the future survival and development of children.
In 2012-2013 as the conflict in Syria brought 250,000 refugees to the Kurdistan region, UNICEF established water and sanitation, education, health, and child protection services in refugee camps and in host communities.
Since 2014, when internal conflict uprooted millions of Iraqis and placed millions more in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF has been working with its partners to meet critical, life -saving needs as well as providing emergency and longer term programmes which support children and families.
UNICEF's Country Office is located in Baghdad. Field Offices are located in Erbil, Dohuk, Baghdad and Basra. UNICEF also maintains a field presence in Sulaymaniyah.
UNICEF's overall goal is to support the Government of Iraq in realizing the rights of all Iraq's children to survival, development, protection and participation, and the creation of an enabling environment to ensure strengthened accountabilities for children with an equity approach. UNICEF works to improve the situation of children in Iraq through key interventions.
Country Programme 2020-2024
The country programme of cooperation is designed to support the Government of Iraq, at national and subnational levels, to accelerate the realization of rights for all children in Iraq. The vision of this country programme is that “by 2024, children, adolescents and women in Iraq are better protected and have more equitable and inclusive access to quality basic services.” The theory of change supports the Government to develop an enabling environment at national and subnational levels to ensure that all girls and boys survive and thrive, learn, and are protected from violence and neglect on a sustainable basis.
The programme is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is aligned with UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021 and Gender Action Plan, 2018–2021 and is consistent with the key pillars of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2020–2024. Its outcomes support national priorities in the National Development Plan 2018–2022, the Poverty Reduction Strategy 2018–2022, and the Kurdistan Regional Government ‘Vision 2020’.
The programme addresses gaps in the enabling environment, including social norms; access to and quality of basic services (supply) as well as demand for services. To address the long-term impact of conflict and exposure to violence on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of children, adolescents, their caregivers and communities, a multisectoral risk-informed approach is required, relying on community structures and mechanisms. UNICEF will strengthen decentralized capacities for the effective, equitable and integrated provision of services, especially in geographic areas with pockets of higher vulnerability and greater disparities. While maintaining a sectoral programme structure, based on the multidimensional nature of Iraqi poverty, multisectoral programming will be applied for early childhood and adolescence.
Ms. Hamida R. Lasseko was appointed the UNICEF Representative in Iraq on 17 January 2019.
Ms. Lasseko brings with her 23 years of dedicated professional technical experience in the development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of UNICEF’s programmes and operational management. Since October 2015 and until her appointment as the Representative in Iraq, Ms, Lasseko has been the Deputy Representative in UNICEF Iraq where she has been providing overall management and coordination of UNICEF’s development and humanitarian country programmes and operations in Iraq. Prior to her arrival in Iraq in 2015, Ms. Lasseko was the UNICEF Deputy Representative in Damascus, Syria.
She had first joined UNICEF as a national Project Officer based in Kigoma, Tanzania, where she had provided technical guidance and oversight of programming in primary health care and early childhood development for Burundian and Rwandese refugees in Western Tanzania from 1996 to 2001, and later as an Emergency Officer from 2001 to 2005, where she had effectively contributed to the improvement of emergency preparedness and response procedures.
From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Lasseko assumed the position of UNICEF Programme Specialist based in Ampara, Sri Lanka where she led and supervised the UNICEF’s post-Tsunami emergency response programme. From 2007 to 2011, was responsible for the formulation, planning, design, implementation and evaluation of the UNICEF humanitarian and development programmes in her capacity as the Chief of Central Region Zone Office based in UNICEF Kabul, Afghanistan. Ms. Lasseko then assumed the position of UNICEF Chief Field Office for operations in Mogadishu and in Gaalkacyo, Somalia during the period from 2011 to 2013.
Ms. Hamida Lasseko is a national of Tanzania, and holds an advanced degree (Master of Science) in Sociology, Commonwealth Open University, United Kingdom, and an advanced Diploma in Nursing Education, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.