European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Irak by Peter Biro
© EU/ECHO/Peter Biro

Conflict and instability have ravaged Iraq for decades. The latest war, between the Islamic State group and the Iraqi government, has triggered a major humanitarian crisis. Intense conflict over the past four years has forced as many as 5.8 million people from their homes across Iraq (four million have been able to return) and left more than 6.6 million in need, including approximately 600 000 displaced people in camps and close to 250 000 refugees from Syria. Humanitarian relief agencies in Iraq assisted 3.4 million people in 2018 and plan to assist nearly two million of the most acutely affected during 2019.

What are the needs?

After elections in May 2018, Iraq now enters a new phase of international engagement with an increased focus on early recovery and development. Civilians who remain in camps will need to be cared for, with camp conditions brought up to basic minimum standards. Outside the camps, in severely affected but neglected areas, there is a continuing need to provide the basic minimum of health, education, and water and sanitation services. Both inside and outside camps, many people still suffer from the effects of the war, requiring physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics and other kinds of assistance. Many people and communities thought to have been associated with the Islamic State group's insurrection face involuntary movements (either forced or obstructed returns to their areas of origin), protracted displacement in camps and, in some cases, an alarming lack of access to basic services. More broadly, the Iraqi economy remains disrupted with widespread poverty as a result.

Most children have missed years of school. In many parts of west Mosul and in Anbar, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din governorates, homes and infrastructure are destroyed, damaged or contaminated by unexploded ordnance. Many people are suffering from mental health problems or recovering from sexual violence or both. A majority of hospitals and clinics in west Mosul have been extensively damaged and lack equipment, medicines and trained medical staff. Over one million people fled Mosul during the military campaign.

Iraq country map
How are we helping?

The European Union is a leading donor to the Iraq humanitarian response, supporting those in greatest need, in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.

Through its humanitarian partners, the EU continues to deliver lifesaving assistance such as protection programmes, emergency healthcare, basic shelter, food, safe water, sanitation and hygiene to those in the greatest need, including people who remain displaced by. The EU also supports the resumption of basic public services including healthcare, education, and water supply in war-affected areas, such as Mosul, western Anbar, and Hawija.

In addition, the EU supports activities that attempt to protect people at risk of mistreatment and abuse, for example by funding legal and psycho-social assistance for minors in detention centers as well as community-based mechanisms to reintegrate former child soldiers. The EU has also funded the provision of legal assistance to families, to help them obtain essential identification papers that were lost during the conflict between the government and the Islamic State group.

The EU has also reinforced its partnerships with aid groups specialising in protection and healthcare to deliver assistance for people in need, including those who suffer long-lasting impacts of the conflict. Some examples include integrating mental health support into primary healthcare programmes where needed, increasing services for survivors of sexual violence, and providing physical therapy and rehabilitation support for the victims of the conflict.

Since 2015, €420 million has been provided in humanitarian aid to displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees inside Iraq. For 2019, the European Commission has made an initial commitment of €30 million in humanitarian funding that brings EU humanitarian support in 2018 and 2019 to a total of €70 million.

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