Lack of funding hampering aid efforts for Iraq’s most vulnerable, UN warns

Lack of funding hampering aid efforts for Iraq’s most vulnerable, UN warns

Christine McNab, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq
The United Nations humanitarian arm warned today that a lack of funding is hampering efforts to assist vulnerable Iraqis, with food distributions to hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and schoolchildren already having been suspended.

So far, only $22.3 million – or 12 per cent – of the required $187.7 million sought for the 2010 humanitarian action plan for Iraq, which was launched six months ago, has been received, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“We appeal to donors not to give up on their commitment to the Iraqi people and to help pave the way for Iraq’s future development,” urged Christine McNab, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.

The lack of funding has already resulted in the World Food Programme (WFP) suspending food distributions to 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children, as well as to 960,000 schoolchildren.

In addition, the livelihoods of 500,000 drought-affected people in the Suleymaniyah and Dahuk governorates are threatened, and some have started to become displaced.

While there was a plan to support 22,500 vulnerable IDP families with emergency shelter, this will now have to be suspended as well, OCHA noted.

“Thousands of households will therefore be left to continue living in desperate shelter conditions, unable to be protected from often severe climatic conditions and vulnerable to sickness through inadequate water and sanitation provision,” the Office stated in a news release.

The funding shortage for Iraq is part of a nearly $5 billion shortfall faced by UN agencies and their partners this year in responding to humanitarian crises spanning the globe. The appeals to help 53 million people in 34 countries – amounting to a total of $9.5 billion – are so far only nearly half funded.

The inflow of resources for 2010 is only lagging slightly behind that of recent years, despite earlier fears that the global recession would sap resources earmarked for disasters.

Launching the mid-year review of the appeals last week, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes asked donors to persist in their efforts to ensure that “people struck by disaster or conflict receive the help they need for the rest of the year to stay alive, avoid recoverable harm, and restore dignity and basic self-sufficiency.”