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Emergency aid projects in Iraq face closure due to funding shortfall

Syrian refugees and Iraqi refugees live in separate camps in northern Iraq
(Cathy Otten/IRIN)

Close to two thirds of emergency aid operations in Iraq could be shut down or cut back if new cash does not come through in the next few weeks, the United Nations has warned.

In the last year more than 2.2million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes due to fighting between militants calling themselves the Islamic State and government security forces and are scattered across the country, many in tented camps and makeshift shelters. 

In October the UN launched an appeal for US$2.2billion to support 5.2 million people (internally-displaced Iraqis, host communities and Syrian refugees) over a 15-month period.

But to date they have only received US$817million - including a single US$500million donation from Saudi Arabia – leaving a major hole in the operating budget and leaving aid agencies facing stark choices about which programmes to support. 

"Unless funding is secured now, 60 percent of humanitarian operations in Iraq will be shut down or curtailed,” David Swanson, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Iraq told IRIN.

“The impact of this will be catastrophic for hundreds of thousands of men, women and children across Iraq at extreme risk,” he added.

On Wednesday Lise Grande, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, delivered the grim assessment to an emergency directors and donors meeting in Geneva.

A new UN report sets out how it plans to prioritise its funding over the coming five months to manage shortfalls. 

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