Responding to humanitarian needs in Iraq
Agron Ferati, Country Director, International Medical Corps
Andrew Harper, Head Iraq Support Unit, UNHCR
Rachel Atkinson, HPN Coordinator
The humanitarian situation in Iraq has reached crisis level. Worsening sectarian clashes and inter-communal violence has led to rising deaths and injuries, with minority groups in particular at serious risk. As a result, growing numbers of people are being forced to leave their homes. Recent figures suggest that almost 1.9 million people are internally displaced while an additional 2 million people have had to flee Iraq altogether. Within this incredibly difficult security context, the humanitarian system has found itself unable to respond effectively. Agencies have faced major challenges in trying to reach Iraqis at risk, making many relief operations neither timely nor in accordance with needs on the ground.
This public meeting brought together experts from across the international relief sector to consider the current situation and explore questions of policy and operational strategy. Do agencies have a clear picture of needs on the ground? What are the possibilities for negotiating secure humanitarian space in this dangerous environment? And are aid agencies being expected to play a role that lies beyond their mandates and capacity?