Foreword by the Humanitarian Coordinator
As Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, I began 2019 with both optimism and trepidation. Optimism because I could see how far the country had come in the year since the declared end of combat operations against ISIL in December 2017, and trepidation because I knew how far it had to go to fully regain stability.
As I look ahead to 2020, I again regard the humanitarian landscape in Iraq with mixed feelings. There is cause—always—to be hopeful as to what this ancient land is capable of; but anyone working in the country today must feel a sense of disquiet about where it is heading. The current political unrest and governmental paralysis makes the work of humanitarians more difficult than ever, and the space we can effectively work in is shrinking all the time.
Approximately 1.4 million people remain internally displaced in Iraq, and transitioning this population towards durable solutions remains at the top of the United Nations’ priorities in 2020. Unanticipated camp closures add a level of volatility to the already precarious lives of IDPs, and humanitarians will need to redouble efforts to maintain effective working relationships with government counterparts to ensure that such exercises are carried out with the safety and dignity of IDPs as the foremost concern.
Accessing people in need has become more difficult than at any other time since the end of combat operations against ISIL. As a result of political upheaval, the mechanism for granting access authorizations to humanitarian partners has been interrupted, a process already made burdensome by the growing fragmentation of access regimes around the country. Re-establishing a unified, predictable access mechanism so that humanitarian actors can efficiently deliver aid to vulnerable people in need is a matter of utmost urgency for 2020.
Much of what needs to be done in Iraq is beyond the scope of what the humanitarian community can do on its own, and will require additional time, money and attention from the government, donors and development partners. Massive needs remain for the clearance of explosive ordnance, social cohesion programmes, improvements to the legal and security systems, employment and livelihoods opportunities, restoration of utilities and basic services, access to quality health care and education, and the repair and reconstruction of war-damaged homes. Finding solutions to these enormous challenges must take place in tandem with humanitarian programming for Iraq to truly move forward, and outreach to stabilization and development partners is already underway and will continue in the year ahead.
I continue to consider it an immense privilege to serve the Iraqi people and to advance humanitarian principles on behalf of people in need. United Nations agencies, NGOs, government counterparts, donors and the people of Iraq themselves will all play role in delivering the 2020 HRP, and I renew my dedication to supporting vulnerable Iraqis and our partners who deliver humanitarian assistance on behalf of the people in need.