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UNRIC Hosts Press Conference on Humanitarian Situation in Iraq

WRD UN SexualViolence April 2015

19.01.2016 - “2016 is a turning point for Iraq,” Bruno Geddo the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Baghdad, told a press conference at the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels on 19 January. 

A UN report released today reveals the extent of the staggering civilian death toll in Iraq, with at least 18,802 civilians killed and another 36,245 wounded between 1 January 2014 and 31 October 2015. The UN report also states that there are 3.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq.

Currently in Brussels to meet with high-level EU officials on the humanitarian situation, Mr Geddo outlined some of the most pressing issues facing the humanitarian mission to Iraq and stressed the need for injections of cash to support its population in its struggle for survival amidst a devastated economy.


Since 2014 the takeover of territory by the Islamic State (IS) and the counter-insurgency operation launched by the Government and its allied forces have significantly increased pressure on the civilian population.  

UNHCR currently runs 45 refugee camps in the country, however around 68% of the IDPs are living outside of camps and in informal locations, often in precarious and dangerous forms of shelter.  In Syria, UNHCR is working in 10 camps housing 250,000 refugees – 9 in Kurdish territory, one under IS control, being managed by partners on the ground.


Migration from Iraq

Mr Geddo identified three factors contributing to migration from Iraq:

  1. Humanitarian aid. Refugees and IDPs have suffered acutely from a reduction in humanitarian assistance as conflict in Syria and Iraq continues. Due to cuts in the humanitarian aid budget, food rations have been steadily declining from USD33 to USD13 per month, and they are further limited to those families who are reported as being either “moderately” or “acutely” food insecurity.
  2. Minority groups such as the Yazidis feel that they don’t have a future in Iraq, they feel that migration is the only option for their physical survival.
  3. IS persecution of Iraqis including persons affiliated with the Government, professionals, such as doctors and lawyers; journalists and tribal and religious leaders.

These factors, derived from UNHCR interaction with refugees on the ground, have engendered a sense of hopelessness and this helps to fuel the continuing perilous flight of migrants to Europe. 


Mr Geddo admitted that the situation in the country will most likely get worse before it gets any better, namely due to the difficulty of combating ISIS, whose malignant presence deeply infiltrates the societies which they occupy. Troops on the ground are losing their lives encountering IEDs including TNT bombs that IS leaves behind.

Finally, he envisioned that Iraq may find itself at a crossroads in 2016: “if the international community manages to keep up its support, this can help the country turn around the latest spell of turmoil”, he concluded.


UNRICs Related Links

·       UN Report on Protection of Civilians in Iraq 

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