The United Nations and its partners provided some $207 million worth of humanitarian assistance to over 2.5 million Iraqis in 2008, according to a report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlighting the successes and challenges for aid organizations in the strife-torn country.
Through the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) – an annual funding request the UN and other humanitarian organizations make to support the needs of people affected by conflict and natural disasters – over $500 million has been requested for 2009.
Much of this amount is for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, OCHA said in a news release.
“United Nations humanitarian programmes focused on protection of the most vulnerable people in Iraq [in 2008],” said Naeema Al-Gasseer, Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
“Although the general situation in Iraq has improved, many Iraqis remain in need of assistance,” added Dr. Al-Gasseer. “There are, for example, still many challenges ahead in handling the Iraqi displacement crisis.”
Last year, some 600,000 people in Iraq received food assistance, around 450,000 benefited from water shipments, an estimated 55,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were placed in improved or new housing and 650,000 presented with household items. Basic social services were restored to a number of communities after decades of conflict.
“The United Nations also supports the Government of Iraq in helping internally displaced persons who have lost their property to regain it, or to get new housing,” said Dr. Al-Gasser.
In addition, she noted that the UN supports efforts to bolster the protection of human rights in the country. “The situation of many vulnerable women and children in Iraq needs to be addressed, and through our programmes, we aim at strengthening women’s and girls’ rights and opportunities.”
Children in over 100 schools are now receiving psychosocial care thanks to the training of over 2,000 teachers, in response to high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder recorded in the country.
The report also noted efforts to help some 100,000 students attend schools across Iraq, plus enrol 36,000 schoolchildren in accelerated learning programmes allowing them to complete their basic education after it was interrupted by the conflict.
For 2009, agencies have requested $192 million for projects in Iraq and some $349 million to support hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees spread across the region.