Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
Four years after the conclusion of large-scale military operations against ISIL, millions of Iraqis have yet to recover from the years of extreme violence and widespread displacement. Recovery and reconstruction remain incomplete, social tensions are often high, and security is complex and fragmented. Iraq’s political future is uncertain and evolving, with parliamentary elections completed in October 2021. The country’s economy is gradually recovering from numerous shocks in 2020, however, many structural economic challenges continue. Climate change is a growing threat in Iraq. Displaced and returnee communities continue to be disproportionally vulnerable to and impacted by shocks in the context.
The situation affecting millions of Iraqis currently or formerly displaced by the 2014-2017 ISIL crisis remains broadly stagnant, as compared to 2021. Some 1.2 million people remain internally displaced, including 1 million outside formal camps. Returns continue to be slow, with the number of displaced Iraqis only decreasing by 35,000 so far this year. Many IDPs and returnees face significant barriers that prevent them from finding durable solutions. These barriers include missing civil documents, contamination from unexploded ordnance, and insufficient housing, basic services and livelihoods in their area of displacement or at home. Vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees alike also are at increased risk for other serious protection risks.
Throughout 2021, the Government of Iraq, UN development agencies, the international humanitarian system, national and international NGOs and donor representatives have accelerated efforts to expand engagement and support to end displacement. The need for humanitarian assistance will continue until this goal is fully achieved, and through collaboration, advancements are foreseen over the next year.
Projected situation in 2022 and beyond
Using tightened criteria to define and assess humanitarian need, evidence shows that some 2.5 million Iraqis remain highly vulnerable and in need in 2022. This translates to about half of all IDPs (180,000 in-camp IDPs plus 550,000 out-of-camp IDPs) and one third of all returnees (1.7 million) being highly vulnerable and in need. The number of people in acute need decreased by nearly 60 per cent year-on-year, from 2.4 million to 960,000. These reductions are the direct result of the revised methodological approach rather than the result of an improved context. Many people previously assessed as being in need remain so, often for socioeconomic or other medium-term support, and should be assisted in 2022 through Government and development action.
Twenty-seven formal camps remain open in Iraq: 25 in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and two in federal Iraq at the time of writing. Only 1 per cent of in-camp IDPs have noted an intention to return to areas of origin in 2022. Some additional camps may close or consolidate in the coming months, and some may see services transferred to the Government. However, all in-camp IDPs are expected to remain in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022.
Among the 1 million IDPs living outside camps, 55 per cent are assessed as being highly vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022, using the tightened criteria. Their situation is often more precarious than IDPs living in the camps due to greater challenges accessing services or livelihoods in their host communities, risks of eviction, and exposure to protection risks, including higher reliance on negative coping mechanisms. IDPs living in critical shelter, including several hundred informal sites throughout Iraq, and those who lack core civil documentation are also of particular concern and focus.
Many of the 1.7 million returnees who remain in humanitarian need to do so because of the conditions in the areas of return, where many continue to live in critical shelter, without access to essential services or livelihoods and where the resumption of safe and dignified living is not yet feasible.
Response priorities in 2022
The 2021 Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) targeted 1.5 million people, with 1.2 million people projected to be reached with assistance by year’s end. Response gaps are largely attributable to lack of funding and partner capacity. The approach and criteria used for targeting people for humanitarian interventions in 2022 have been revised through a tighter definition of needs and a more realistic prediction of humanitarian implementation capacity, funding, access and reach. Initial analysis shows that the 2022 Iraq HRP will likely target around 990,000 Iraqis with humanitarian assistance. This would include all in-camp IDPs, 230,000 acutely vulnerable out-of-camp IDPs and 580,000 acutely vulnerable returnees who face a multitude of humanitarian needs.
The strategic objectives of the 2022 Iraq HRP continue to focus on supporting IDPs and returnees to live in safety and dignity, access essential services and meet their basic needs. Within this framework, specific objectives will capture the different levels of support needed for in-camp IDPs, out-of-camp IDPs and returnees.
In addition to providing life-saving and life-sustaining humanitarian support, the humanitarian community in Iraq will continue to work closely with development and stabilization entities to operationalize the nexus, including through the area based coordination groups, and to contribute to the adoption of a shared understanding of and coordinated action in response to the priority drivers of need.
- The 2022 number of people in need is a decrease of 40 per cent, as compared to the 4.1 million identified in 2021.
- The targets and costs presented in this document reflect preliminary estimates that may be further adjusted as the Iraq HCT reviews and vets the draft programmatic response and targeting for 2022, as the HRP is being finalized.