Support extremely poor households consisting of refugees and host communities to transition from extreme poverty and achieve sustainable livelihoods in Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah governorates by 2024 using the Graduation Approach.
In Iraq, absence of an effective legal framework for refugee protection and naturalization continues to prelude longer term residency rights and other legal benefits for PoCs. The main PoC population in Iraq consist of IDP’s and mainly 240,000 Syrian refugees, 97% of which reside in the KRI. Most refugees face severely constrained access to basic services, continued security risks, and a lack of livelihoods opportunities and financial resources. At 48.7%, Iraq has one of the lowest labor force participation rates in the world, especially for women (12%) and youth (26%) (World Bank). Half of the population in the KRI are under the age of 15 with 45% of the population having no primary education.
Covid-19 measures adopted by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government have temporarily affected the ability of humanitarian actors to implement their programs. The two main challenges were the halt of certain activities due to movement restrictions in the KR-I and the closure of border crossing points. The movement restrictions imposed by the Kurdistan Regional Government have negatively affected the access to employment and livelihoods opportunities for refugees and host communities and on the activities of micro and small business in KR-I.
UNHCR will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation and further assess and advise on how to implement life-saving activities in case the Covid-19 measures adopted by the host authorities in Iraq continue to negatively affect the humanitarian refugee response. To counter the negative economic effects of the current situation on already vulnerable households, who are often working in the informal sector without support from social protection schemes and unable to cover their basic needs or resorting to negative copy mechanisms, UNHCR and WFP increased, respectively, the number of beneficiaries receiving cash and food assistance.