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Political uncertainty causing aid funds to dry up?

[Iraq] The remaining displaced from Ramadi still receive assistance from aid agencies but many have returned to the city.
[Date picture taken: 11/13/2006]
Under threat of death, Palestinian refugees living in Anbar province have nowhere to go (Afif Sarhan/IRIN)

A lack of funds from international donors in 2010 has hindered UN and NGO assistance programmes for the most vulnerable Iraqis, leaving many of the country’s pressing humanitarian needs unaddressed, says a UN mid-year review report.



“Insufficient funding has seriously constrained the implementation of UN and NGO assistance projects in Iraq planned for in the 2010 IHAP [Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan],” said the 19 July report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “Many projects have not begun.”



Early this year, eight UN agencies, seven NGOs operating in the country and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced IHAP as a continuation of the inter-agency consolidated appeal process launched for Iraq in 2008 and expanded to Iraq and the region in 2009.



IHAP was launched “with an emerging consensus that Iraq has passed the acute humanitarian emergency phase and is progressing towards normalized relations and improved Government capacity to address the country’s longer-term recovery and security challenges”, said the report, adding that the focus was on “enduring vulnerabilities across Iraq, while targeting assistance to 26 priority districts where humanitarian needs are most acute”.



The overall funding requirements for IHAP were determined to be US$187.7 million. But as of 8 July, the UN had secured only 31 percent, $58 million, of this. Of this amount, $35.8 million is a carry-over from 2009 pledges and the remaining $22.3 million is new donor contributions, according to OCHA.



Why? 









''Iraq should not rely on external financial support as we are an oil-rich nation. The government should bear some of the responsibility.''

In addition to insufficient funding, the delay in forming Iraq’s new coalition government months after inconclusive general elections has delayed key decision-making processes “as now many crucial decisions are pending the nomination of new ministers and officials” and thus affecting the implementation of many IHAP programmes and projects, the report said.



Baghdad-based analyst Hadi Jalo said political infighting since the 7 March elections had “created a state of confusion in the international community and then a lack of trust, especially among international donors - mainly the European Union and the United States.”



“I don’t believe that international financial aid will be available unless there is political stability in Iraq,” he said. “Political stability in Iraq gives legitimacy to any work and cooperation and will protect the money from being spent improperly.”



Ahmed Hassan Rasheed, spokesman for the Baghdad-based NGO Human Relief Foundation, said that donors’ reluctance to spend could also be due to slow bureaucratic procedures in Iraq, a lack of transparency on how donor money is spent and the impact of the global financial crisis.



He said the government should step in to fill the gap in funding as its coffers were filled with petro-dollars. “.”



Most affected areas



Edward Kallon, the World Food Programme representative for Iraq, explained that because of the shortfall in IHAP funding “food distributions to 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children have had to be suspended. Food distribution to 960,000 school-going children has also been suspended."



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



Also to be suspended is a plan to provide 22,500 vulnerable displaced families throughout Iraq with emergency shelter.



"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," Christine McNab, humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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