Remarks by the Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. on the Occasion of the Launch of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq

Excellencies Ministers,
Excellencies Governors,
Distinguished Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished civil society representatives, Distinguished guests,
UN colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor to be here today representing the Deputy Special
Representative of the Secretary General, Resident Coordinator, and Humanitarian
Coordinator, Ms. Marta Ruedas; the United Nations; and the entire humanitarian
community as we officially launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for
Iraq, alongside and in support of the Government of Iraq’s humanitarian plan for
Let me begin my remarks by taking a moment to recognize the progress
made so far in Iraq’s return to normalcy after the brutal armed conflict against
Daesh. At the height of the conflict, six million Iraqis were displaced from their
homes. More than four million have now returned to their communities. They are
rebuilding their homes, they are starting businesses, their children are enrolled in
school. These are triumphs which should be acknowledged, and the contributions
of the Government of Iraq and development partners in making this a reality
should be celebrated.
However, much remains to be done. As of the end of February 2019, there are approximately 1.7 million Iraqis who remain displaced, both in IDP camps, and in out-of-camp settings, often living in informal settlements which lack services or regular deliveries of humanitarian aid. The United Nations estimates that more one million of these people have been displaced for more than three years, and we have done extensive research on the reasons behind this prolonged displacement.
Some of the explanations for continued displacement are quite tangible: IDPs’ homes in their areas of origin are damaged or destroyed, or their neighborhoods are filled with unexploded ordinance, or they lack the identification documents needed in order to return home and claim their property. Other explanations are more intangible, and require additional analysis: IDPs feel there is a lack of social cohesion in their areas of origin, or feel the areas are unsafe, or have concerns that there are no services and no jobs in their towns and villages. It may be unrealistic to expect people to return under such conditions, and necessary to understand that if they do so, they will require a great deal of support.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan is intended to help address some of these issues. The Plan is based on comprehensive data gathered during a rigorous country-wide needs assessment exercise carried out by humanitarian actors over several months in 2018. It aims to deliver targeted assistance to 1.75 million Iraqis in 30 districts where conditions are considered to have the highest severity.
The Plan will guide United Nations agencies and NGO partners in delivering humanitarian aid to 500,000 men, women, and children living in IDP camps; 550,000 displaced Iraqis living in out-of-camp environments; 500,000 returnees; and 200,000 Iraqis who live in vulnerable host communities. The Plan includes a total of 183 projects that will serve as a complement to the Government’s humanitarian response and reconstruction efforts, and in parallel the UN’s other stabilization and development programmes. The estimated cost of these activities is US$701 million.
The projects of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan will be carried out under three Strategic Objectives. The first is transition towards durable solutions. Iraq’s displaced population must be presented with options beyond living in an IDP camp, or, perhaps worse, living in an unfinished building with few possibilities to support themselves other than the generosity of their fellow citizens.
It is a shared goal of the United Nations, the international community, the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government that Iraq’s IDPs will return home. However, in many cases, return is not an option—because their homes may no longer exist, because their neighbors no longer welcome them, or because there is a lack of schools and hospitals and jobs. In such cases, other options must be explored.
The second Strategic Objective that the Plan will support is the centrality of protection. Vulnerable Iraqi citizens—whether they reside in camps, out-of-
camps, have returned home or are among those communities hosting large numbers of IDPs—have the right to live a dignified life, with full enjoyment of their rights as Iraqi citizens. The Humanitarian Response Plan will implement its activities with a special focus on ensuring protection for vulnerable groups who require additional support.
In some cases, ensuring that IDPs have a dignified life may include the closure and consolidation of some camps to ensure that minimum standards are maintained. IDP camps with poor infrastructure in remote locations which host a limited number of families are not efficient or effective at serving the needs of displaced persons. Thus, camp consolidation and the voluntary transfer of IDPs to larger camps with better service provision—including medical services, schools and improved security arrangements— is one of the goals of humanitarian actors in Iraq in 2019. Should people voluntarily opt to return home rather than be transferred, this, too, should be facilitated. However, in all cases, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners will insist that movements are safe, dignified, informed, voluntary and sustainable. We will continue to work within the Principled Returns Framework, and in partnership with the Governorate Returns Committees, who have also pledged to uphold these ideals.
The third Strategic Objective of the Plan is strengthening contingency planning and preparedness. As those in the room know all too well, Iraq is a country that is prone to a daunting set of environmental challenges and natural hazards, including floods, earthquakes and droughts. The Government of Iraq and
their counterparts in the international community must undertake collective preparedness and contingency planning to meet identifiable risks which could negatively impact the implementation of humanitarian activities.
The joint response to the recent flooding throughout the country is one very good example of how the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, civil defense groups, NGOs and the United Nations can work together to respond to a crisis. But more can be done to ensure adequate funding, staff and provisions are pre-positioned in areas where the risks may be highest. Continued coordination between the relevant government bodies and the United Nations is essential.
Excellencies, dignitaries, distinguished guests,
The United Nations is honored to be here today in partnership with all of you to launch the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, and looks forward to working with our government, NGO, UN agency and donor partners in the room to make it a reality.
We are also here to observe, listen, and learn how we can further assist the Government of Iraq in implementing its own plans to ensure that all Iraqi citizens can enjoy a secure, stable, and prosperous future.
Thank you.

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