Iraq funding crisis | Action Against Hunger

Urgent funding needed for Iraq's displaced

An estimated 8 million people need emergency assistance in Iraq but as states plough funding into military and political solutions, aid agencies are forced to slash support when it’s needed most…

By Action Against Hunger

Jun 4 2015

Disinterest from the international community, falling funding, access challenges and new waves of displacement now threaten lives in Iraq, Action Against Hunger warned today.

As the United Nations (UN) launches a new appeal for US$497 million to address the staggering humanitarian needs in Iraq, Action Against Hunger – which is supporting families currently sheltering in the Kurdistan region of Iraq – called on the international community to respond urgently with aid that is strictly humanitarian in nature.

In late May, less than 40 per cent of the money the UN estimated was needed for Iraq was donated, resulting in significant cuts to support for families who rely wholly on humanitarian organisations for their survival.

Every month we distribute food and food coupons to nearly 190,000 people in Iraq. The aid, delivered in partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme, had to be halved in mid-April. Food rations dropped from 65kg to 34.5kg and food coupons were slashed from 30,000 Iraqi Dinars (approximately £16) to 19,000 Iraqi Dinars (approximately £10).

If funding cannot be found, further cuts are feared as the number of displaced in Iraq continues to rise.

On 2 June, at a conference in Paris, 24 states reaffirmed their military and political commitment to fight the Islamic State. This conflict produces new victims daily and causes new displacements as people seek shelter from the violence. The international community appears to be more focused on aid for political and military purposes, and slow to meet the needs of the communities worst affected.

Countries must prioritise funding this humanitarian emergency impartially, in a way that is based solely on the needs of the most vulnerable and is strictly humanitarian in nature, in order to avoid strengthening existing tensions.

Access problems

Thousands of people are currently struggling to access the help they desperately need, whether because of fighting, inter-communal tensions that are preventing their movement, or administrative bottlenecks.

Likewise, aid agencies are struggling to reach these people as they strive to maintain their neutrality, impartiality and independence, and to gain respect in what is a highly politicised and insecure context.

'The future battle of Mosul'

There is often talk of the ‘future battle of Mosul’, but the humanitarian consequences are rarely addressed. If it happens, it’s fair to expect another vast influx of people fleeing the fighting. 

"Mosul is the largest city in northern Iraq,” said Ann Reiner, who is organising an emergency response plan for Action Against Hunger. “Its population is estimated at nearly 1.3 million. If clashes occur there, hundreds of thousands of people may be forced to flee suddenly, leaving everything they have behind. Through this project, we have pre-positioned stocks and as we are known to the authorities we can assist families in the space of a few hours.”

Our teams have also been studying the capacity of local markets and the ability of merchants to store sufficient food in the event of a mass influx of people. We have also assessed the quality of water networks and the will of people in villages near the border with Mosul to welcome an influx of displaced people.

The results of these evaluations were varied. Some communities are still traumatised by the atrocities experienced in the summer of 2014 and are unwilling to offer assistance to people of other ethnic groups perceived as being involved in abuses. Others are in favour, but their support could be limited as their economic resources have been dramatically reduced since summer 2014.

All are adamant that without the support of NGOs and governments, their capacity to support the displaced is extremely limited.  

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Images: Florian Seriex for Action Against Hunger