Iraq at a crossroads of development and crises

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The Kurdistan Region hosts more than half of 2.5 million internally displaced persons in Iraq, in addition to some 245,000 Syrian refugees © UNDP Iraq/2014

Iraq faces a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Alarming development gaps and security risks affect 5 million people, of which nearly 2.5 million have fled their homes in the central and northern regions, in addition to 245,000 Syrians seeking refuge in Kurdistan.

In 2014, UNDP Iraq helped:

  • create jobs and businesses for 14,000 people
  • spearhead resilience approaches for 245,000 Syrian refugees
  • foster social cohesion among 2,000 people in 11 communities
  • provide basic services in camps for 5,000 people
  • prevent gender-based violence for 10,000 women and girls
  • reach to 91,000 people on mine risks

Between December 2013 and end 2014, nearly 2.5 million of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled their homes in central and northern Iraq, seeking security in Kurdistan, and other governorates such as Karbala, Diyala, Najaf and Basra.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq itself hosts 970,000 IDPs and 245,000 Syrian refugees (as of March 2015). 

Waves of instability and violence have directly affected more than 5 million people in Iraq. This number may increase even further as counter-insurgency efforts continue. 

The impact of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis extends beyond populations to all institutions, systems and political processes.

With the UN  Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNDP is spearheading resilience approaches to help Syrian refugees and IDPs rebuild their livelihoods and become more self-reliant in the medium-term.

This incorporates the broader issue of social cohesion, which is at the heart of any form of stabilization, and sits at the centre of the United Nations strategic planning in Iraq.

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UNDP supported local governments for the construction of water, sewerage and electricity systems; these basic services now serve more than 5,000 people in the camp of Dawoodiya, Dohuk © UNDP Iraq/2014

Income generation and basic social infrastructure

UNDP leads the UN support to employment and income generation, so that people are able to take care of themselves and become less dependent on handouts. 

UNDP supports central and local authorities in leading the crisis response, and in the rehabilitation of basic social infrastructure, particularly in those areas where the return of displaced people is possible.  

UNDP seeks to pre-empt gross human rights violations, reduce risks of gender-based violence, and to foster dialogue among diverse communities in developing tools to mediate and resolve conflicts.

Amongst other critical activities, UNDP funds a mine action programme, which reached to some 90,000 displaced people and refugees in Kurdistan in 2014.

Finally, UNDP steps-up its support to strengthening legal, judicial and security sector reforms. This includes capacity building to help the Iraqi government implement its 4-year development programme and timely address potential setbacks in the country's socio-economic development.

Our images
  • Construction of 900 cabins in Dawoodiya camp for internally displaced persons in Dohuk Governorate (Dec 2014)
  • Construction of 900 cabins in Dawoodiya camp for internally displaced persons in Dohuk Governorate (Dec 2014)
  • Basic services for Dawoodiya camp (electricity, water) are provided by UNDP
  • Water wells in Dawoodiya camp in Dohuk Governorate are provided by UNDP
  • IDP camp near Dawoodiya in Dohuk Governorate
  • Displaced Yazidi near Dawoodiya in Dohuk Governorate

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Related documents
  • Presentation of the Strategic Response Plan 2014 (slides) English
  • Fast facts: UNDP’s response to the crisis English
  • UNDP-UNHCR Operational Framework for Iraq, 23 Nov 2014 English
  • Strategic Response Plan 2014-2015 English | Kurdish | Arabic
  • Immediate Response Plan (IRP) for the IDPs in KR-I Sep-Nov 2014 English | Arabic
  • Strategic Response Plan 2014 Revision Feb-Jun 2014 English