Aid to vulnerable people in Iraq risks being completely blocked within weeks, warned the UN’s humanitarian chief in Iraq, Marta Ruedas, on Tuesday, as a result of the suspension of government documents allowing humanitarians to carry out critical missions.
Aid is in danger of rotting in warehouses, putting lives in jeopardy Marta Ruedas, Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN in Iraq
In a statement released on Thursday by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ms. Ruedas declared that “our operations are at risk. Without predictable, continual access authorization, humanitarian aid is in danger of rotting in warehouses, putting lives in jeopardy and wasting badly-needed donor funds”.
Prior to November 2019, humanitarian organizations based in Iraq, including the UN and its NGO partners, were granted monthly letters, allowing them to pass through checkpoints unhindered. As of January 2020, almost all of these letters had expired and, with no alternative measures in place, the flow of aid deliveries in Iraq had slowed considerably.
A survey of NGO partners showed that more than 2,460 humanitarian missions have been cancelled or prevented from reaching their destinations. Some 2.4 million people are believed to be affected as a result.
More than 100 NGOs were active in Iraq in 2019, working under a coordinated, $700 million plan to assist some 1.75 million internally displaced persons, those returning home, and host communities. It is estimated that around $520 million is needed to continue vital humanitarian work through this year.
UNAMI says that, unless partners are allowed to immediately resume full, unimpeded movement of their personnel and supplies, humanitarian operations in Iraq “may come to a complete halt within a matter of weeks”, leading to the possibility of hundreds of thousands of people in conflict-affected areas going without food, medicine and materials to get them through the coldest months of the year.
“We request that the Government of Iraq provide clarity on the procedures for granting access authorizations for humanitarian organizations”, said Ms. Ruedas, “and allow us to resume delivering aid effectively and efficiently for the people of Iraq”.