Backgrounder - Canadian Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Iraq

Canada remains very concerned by the escalating humanitarian and security situation in Iraq. To-date, 1.8 million Iraqi children, women and men, including Yezidis and Christians, have been displaced by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been carrying out a murderous rampage in Iraq, seizing territory and systematically killing civilians.

After months of clashes and isolation, diminishing supplies of food, essential items and fuel, as well as irregular access to electricity and water, are becoming growing concerns. Health care services have been disrupted and communication channels cut in some areas.

Canada is a top tier humanitarian donor to Iraq and has committed a total of $36.9 million in humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the year for Iraqis affected by the conflict ($27.4 million) and Syrian refugees ($9.5 million), through UN humanitarian agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGO partners. This assistance is helping meet the urgent health, shelter, protection, education and food needs of thousands of civilians.

Canada’s total assistance of $36.9 million includes $8 million in assistance to UNICEF—announced on October 17, 2014, by Minister Paradis—in support of the No Lost Generation (NLG) initiative in Iraq, which addresses the education and protection needs of conflict-affected children in Iraq.

The NLG initiative will reach as many as 200,000 at-risk children in Iraq, and will focus on education in emergencies, child protection and social cohesion by helping to:

Education in emergencies

  • establish fully equipped prefabricated schools;
  • train teachers to deliver quality education in emergency situations, including conflict-sensitive education, protection and psychosocial support, teaching in emergency contexts and classroom management;
  • provide catch-up classes and other learning opportunities; and
  • provide basic learning supplies to vulnerable children.

Child protection

  • establish child-friendly spaces in camps for internally displaced persons;
  • establish child-protection camp committees, and train committee members and protection staff to mobilize camp communities against neglect, violence, abuse and exploitation affecting the safety and well-being of children, and carry out child-protection interventions in camps;
  • establish child helplines, identify cases of unaccompanied and separated children and provide them with needed assistance and services, trace unaccompanied and separated children and reunify them with their families, and provide unaccompanied and separated children with temporary care through foster care arrangements; and
  • train social workers to deliver timely and appropriate social services to identified vulnerable children and their families.

Social cohesion

  • implement sport, art, culture and other collective, conflict-sensitive mini-projects to promote social cohesion;
  • implement micro-projects with a focus on social cohesion designed and implemented by adolescent, youth and community groups;
  • establish an outreach program that uses social media, community events and household visits to maintain engagement with and participation of communities in the project;
  • facilitate monthly intercommunity child-focused debates; and
  • assist identified youth leaders to create a network for peer support and education.

Canada’s assistance also includes $7 million in humanitarian assistance—announced on September 4, 2014, by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on behalf of Minister Paradis— for the provision of:

  • Kits with non-food items, including mattresses, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, blankets, solar lamps and cooking sets;
  • Access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and education to raise awareness on hygiene and water conservation;
  • Support to meet imminent additional winterization needs of internally displaced families;
  • Additional support to meet emergency survival needs of internally displaced people, including medicines, clothing and money to pay for rental housing;
  • Primary health-care services with integrated mental-health programming provided at camp-based clinics and mobile medical units;
  • Mental-health and community-outreach services; and
  • Essential medical commodities to existing health facilities.

Additionally, it includes $5 million announced by Minister Paradis on August 10, 2014, allocated to four experienced humanitarian partners active on the ground:

  • Development and Peace: $1,000,000;
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): $1,750,000;
  • Save the Children Canada: $1,250,000; and
  • Mercy Corps: $1,000,000.

Canada maintains an emergency stockpile, managed by the Canadian Red Cross. The stockpile is comprised of relief items designed to meet the basic needs of crisis-affected populations, including tents, blankets, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, and jerry cans. An initial deployment of relief supplies from Canada’s emergency stockpile to address the immediate needs of conflict-affected people in northern Iraq was announced by Minister Paradis on August 29, 2014.

In June 2014, Iraq was added to the list of Canada’s development country partners.