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Last updated: June 2022

Based on available COI, the general situation with regard to the elements mentioned in the previous sections is assessed as follows:

Food security

[KSEI 2020, 1.3, 2.4, 2.7; KSEI 2021, 2.4, 2.4.1, 2.4.2, 2.4.3]

In 2019, the UN World Food Programme stated that food insecurity among men in urban areas was 1.8 % and in rural areas 4.9 %, while among women the percentages were 1.5 % in urban areas and 7.6 % in rural areas. The percentages of people who were vulnerable to food insecurity were significantly higher, amounting to around 50 % in urban areas and 60 % in rural areas. Due to the COVID-19 impact on the Iraqi economy, the list of people identified as most at risk of food insecurity is to include additional people. In a report dated 30 April 2020, the WFP observed a tendency to hoard food for the COVID-19 lockdown period, which led to a surge in food prices towards the end of March. However, the prices stabilised in April due to price control measures and the distribution of essential food items through the Public Distribution System (PDS). The average of goods availability at a national level was 8.5 out of 10, and markets across the country showed very good resilience in terms of supply chain.

Baghdad is generally depended on food imports. Data collected on 15 November 2020 showed that 10 % of people in Baghdad governorate had insufficient food consumption. Due to the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar in December 2020, prices for some imported essential foods rose. This negatively affected food security at the household level. Baghdad had the highest variation in food prices during the reference period. Loss of employment and income because of the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the situation additionally. In Baghdad, the price of the food basket increased by 36 % in late December 2020.

Basrah suffered from a major water crisis which resulted in losses for farmers. This had a serious impact on food security and access to drinking water. Furthermore, farmers did not generate sufficient income from their agricultural activities, turning agricultural land into residential areas.

Sulaymaniyah’s food market was less impacted by the devaluation of the Iraqi dinar. The KRI had the lowest consumption of rationed items in Iraq. According to Oxfam 22% did not have access to nutritious food, half of them were women. High prices, limited incomes and COVID-19 restrictions attributed to this situation. In September 2020, an estimation of 5.1-10 % of IDP households in Sulaymaniyah had a food security living standard gap (LSG).

In the Baghdad, Basrah and Sulaymaniyah governorates, IDP, returnees and hosts living in out-of-camp settings were reached through emergency food baskets.

All Iraqis are eligible for the Public Distribution System (PDS), a government programme consisting of distribution of food and oil rations on a monthly basis. In order to obtain a PDS card, it is necessary to present a civil ID and residency card. On 8 July 2020, a pilot project to launch an online application of the PDS system was rolled out in Baghdad. [KSEI 2021, 3.1.6] Kurds and Yazidis arriving from areas that are disputed between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq to Sulaymaniyah are not allowed to transfer their food ration card [KSEI 2021, 1.3.3].

Although food is generally available, it remained a high priority concern for IDPs in Iraq. IDPs in and out of camp settings lack or have limited access to food, with female-headed households and girls being particularly affected.

Housing and shelter

[KSEI 2019, 6.1; KSEI 2020, 1.3, 2.7; KSEI 2021, 2.7]

The country is reported to have a large housing deficit. Rapid population growth and constant growth in informal settlements inside and around cities (mainly Baghdad and Basrah) were aspects of the current housing situation in Iraq. Housing prices have increased in areas where many IDPs have come to. A lot of the housing in cities is informal and is not built according to planning of the government. UNOCHA observed that around 700 000 people remained in critical shelter, such as makeshift shelters, unfinished or abandoned buildings, worn tents or public buildings. Rents are increasing extremely in Baghdad and the large inflow of IDPs and migrants to urban areas has put notable pressure on the housing market, although rental costs slightly decreased due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Lack of housing led to a growing number of informal settlements. An estimated 3.3 million inhabitants (12.9 % of the local population) lived in informal settlements. Repeated power cuts in southern Iraq, including Baghdad and Basrah, affect peoples’ lives and living conditions especially in summer, when temperatures rise above 50 degrees Celsius. The cost of renting housing in Basrah city is also higher than in surrounding areas. Basrah city’s ‘already dilapidated infrastructure’ was further challenged by the rapid expansion of illegal settlements. As reported in February 2020, Basrah had 667 informal settlements. In Sulaymaniyah, the demand for housing was growing as people moved to the city attracted by employment opportunities. Single men and women face restrictions on areas and types of rental accommodation, as they are not permitted to rent apartments in Sulaymaniyah city centre, unless the apartment is part of an apartment complex. In contrast to other regions in Iraq, which can only provide a few hours of electricity a day, Sulaymaniyah governorate provides on average 12 hours of electricity a day.

As of July 2021, there were 26 856 IPDs or 4 476 IDP households in Baghdad governorate. In October 2020, three IDP camps closed in Baghdad governorate following a government’s policy aiming at closing all IDP camps in the Baghdad-controlled regions by December 2020. According to an UNOCHA report, closure of IDP camps resulted in difficult humanitarian conditions and protection issues due to ‘not well-coordinated’ movements. [KSEI 2021, 2.7.1]

IDPs that are in camps do have shelter, but it is the most basic form of shelter. IDPs in and out of camp settings lack or have limited access to housing.

Water and hygiene

[KSEI 2020, 1.3, 2.4, 2.7; KSEI 2021, 2.4, 2.7]

Water access has improved since 2010, however, many Iraqis still rely on informal wells, government and NGO water trucks, and unreliable tap systems, while Iraq’s freshwater continues to be depleted. During recent years, various sources have reported about the existence of a serious water resources problem stemming from external and internal factors, such as the drop in the levels of water of the Euphrates and Tigris, climate change, and high contamination levels. Increasingly frequent and intense droughts in central and southern Iraq were an additional threat to agricultural production and contributed to the problem of water scarcity. Poor water governance, out-dated infrastructure and poorly maintained irrigations systems also worsened Iraq’s situation of water scarcity. [KSEI 2021, 2.4.2]

The residents of Baghdad deal with daily water service interruptions, especially in summer. A population boom put additional pressure on utilities and housing. Drinking and agricultural water available in Baghdad City is of poor quality. Chemical pollution is a significant problem for many drinking water sources in Bagdad city, including bottled water. The sewer system in Baghdad serves between 75.9 and 90 % of the city’s households but it is old and, therefore, inefficient. 10.1 to 25 % of IDP households in Baghdad governorate’s Al-Khadhmiyah and Al-Mahmoudiya districts suffered from a water, sanitation and hygiene living standards gap. In Al-Adhamiya and Al-Karkh they are 0.1 to 10 % to suffer from such a gap. [KSEI 2021, 2.7.1] Access to safe drinking water represented one of the main problems in Basrah. Almost half of the governorate’s inhabitants informed UN-Habitat that the availability of drinking water was bad or very bad and less than half of the people with access to the public water network had water available for the full day. [KSEI 2021, 2.4.2]

The sewer system in Baghdad has been reported to be old and ‘has exceeded its design life’, and it suffered from various problems, especially in the rain season. Numerous residents in the Basrah governorate were not connected to the water and sewage networks, leading to contaminating groundwater with raw sewage. The city’s sewage system is obsolete and sewerage services are deteriorating. The increased use of polluted water from the Shatt Al-Arab triggered an outbreak of water related illnesses. Water from the public water network was non-potable and not suitable for washing dishes and showering. In June 2021, drought impacted Sulaymaniyah city, and in the whole governorate contaminated water caused a rise in diseases due to the consumption of non-potable water.

Concerning IDP’s access to water, 46 % of households in camps and 36 % out of camps households and 21 % of returnee households are unable to access enough water for domestic use.

Basic healthcare

[KSEI 2020, 1.3, 5 2.5; KSEI 2021, 2.4, 2.5]

The Iraqi State provides a universal healthcare and medical supplies at a subsidised cost to all Iraqis. Medications and services provided in public hospitals are subject to shortages. Due to COVID-19, situation at many of Iraq’s hospitals deteriorated rapidly, as waves of new cases exposed their capacity to cope with extraordinary pressure and overwhelmed their overworked and under-resourced staff. The ID card is required to register at a clinic or hospital in order to get access to healthcare. Those who miss documents do not have access to healthcare and are not able to acquire birth certificates for their children.

As a result of the conflict, the healthcare system in Iraq, including in Baghdad, has seen a significant deterioration. Both health services and medication are available in a public and a private sector system. Hospitals and other health services are heavily concentrated in urban areas. As a consequence, hospitals and other medical facilities are either scarcely or not at all available for inhabitants of the poorer governorates. In April 2021, it was reported that the numbers of health professionals and centres across the country were very low and did not match the population growth. The COVID-19 pandemic only aggravated the existing situation [KSEI 2021, 2.5.1]. Medical staff are not evenly distributed across the country; disproportionately large numbers of doctors, healthcare professionals and beds are located in Baghdad, while poorer governorates, such as Basrah, have fewer available medical resources and experience shortage in vital medical equipment.

Baghdad has the nationwide highest bed availability in public hospitals – 1.6 beds per 1 000 people, with a total number of 13 628 beds. Private hospitals offered an additional 2 342 general hospital beds. Most IDP camps in Baghdad had no health centre or medical teams to take care of emergencies, and people lacked the money to pay for private doctors. [KSEI 2021, 2.5.1]. In Basrah the total number of 4 227 available beds in public hospitals, including 3 323 general and 904 ‘emergency beds’, signified a ratio of 1.4 beds per 1 000 people, while the private hospitals offered an additional 282 general beds. The main obstacles with regard to access to public hospitals were linked to the unavailability of doctors in general, of female doctors or nurses and of medical equipment. [KSEI 2021, 2.5.2]. In Sulaymaniyah the ratio of government hospitals to residents is the highest in Iraq. With statistically 21.6 health centres per population of 100 000, the governorate had the nationwide highest density of primary health facilities offering a total of public and private bed availability of 3847 beds. [KSEI 2021, 2.5.3].

Means of basic subsistence

[KSEI 2019, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2; KSEI 2021, 2.2, 2.3]

In the second half of 2019, the World Bank reported on a ‘broad-based’ recovery of the Iraqi economy. However, the COVID-19 crisis and all subsequent preventive measures gave rise to concerns regarding the population’s economic welfare. Several sources referred to corruption and governance-related issues as the major challenges the Iraqi economy has been facing. Unemployment is high and labour force participation remains exceedingly low, especially for women and youth and in the areas affected by conflict. Although the situation is improving, the current economic situation is not at the same level as it was before the ISIL conflict.

In Baghdad governorate, the total unemployment rate in 2021 was 9.3 % and the youth unemployment rate 15 %. Employment opportunities in southern Iraq are described as ‘limited’ due to the 2003-2011 and 2014-2017 Iraq wars as well as to the high dependency on oil, which hinders potential employment in productive sectors. Two thirds of female and male employees in the private and public sector had difficulties finding a job because of the limited job opportunities. Poverty and structural inequality create dependence upon PMF for jobs, access to public and/or private services as well as bureaucratic approval. In Basrah governorate, unemployment rate in 2021 was 7.6 % and the youth unemployment rate (age 15-29) was 16.5 %, with rural employment being mainly agriculturally based; the sector has been negatively impacted by water salinity and shortages in 2018. Two thirds of female and male employees in the private and public sector had difficulties finding a job because of the limited job opportunities. Social constraints on working women prevailed. 60-80 % of households in Basrah were in severe or extreme need in September 2020. In Sulaymaniyah governorate, the economic activity rate of people between the age of 15 and 29 was 44.7 % (above the national average of 36.8 %), however the unemployment rate in this group was high at 27.7 %. Compared to the rest of Iraq, unemployment among women (28 %) and youth (42 %) was particularly high in the KRI already before the COVID-19 pandemic. 80.1-90 % of households were in severe or extreme need in September 2020.

The rates of unemployment are especially high for IDPs. The lack of livelihoods for IDPs translated into difficulties meeting basic needs, such as food, household/non-food items, and shelter. In 2020 in Baghdad governorate, out of 31 000 IDPs living in out-of-camp settings in the governorate, 20 000 were in need and 8 000 out-of-camp-IDPs were in acute need. It has also been reported that all of the documented in-camp-IDPs in Baghdad governorate were in need (1 000 IDPs) or in acute need (300 IDPs). Additionally, more than 50 000 returnees were in need. In 2020 in Basrah governorate, out of 6 000 documented out-of-camp IDPs, 2 000 were in need and 458 in acute need. In Sulaymaniyah governorate, out of 119 000 IDPs living in out-of-camp settings in the governorate, 92 000 were in need and 49 000 out-of-camp-IDPs were in acute need. It has also been reported that all of the documented in-camp-IDPs in the governorate were in need (11 000 IDPs) or in acute need (6 000 IDPs).

The general circumstances prevailing in Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah and Basrah, assessed in relation to the factors above, do not preclude the reasonableness to settle in the cities. However, a careful examination should take place, particularly when assessing the availability of IPA to Basrah. The assessment should take into account the individual circumstances of the applicant.


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