Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

US contributes $6.5 million to Iraq camps COVID-19 response

The United States has donated $6.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) response to COVID-19 for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq.

The “generous contribution” will add to UNHCR efforts for the prevention, detection and treatment of coronavirus in Iraq’s camps, according to a statement released by the organisation on Friday. 

“The new funding will contribute towards UNHCR's efforts to ensuring protection interventions for persons of concern to prevent their exposure to life threatening situations and ensure their basic needs are met,” reads the statement.

Iraqi camps are home to some 1.5 million IDPs, according to Amnesty International. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) alone presides over 38 camps, home to nearly a million IDPs and refugees.

Camp officials and humanitarian agencies have warned that facilities in Iraq already struggling to attend to the basic health needs of residents were ill-prepared for a potential outbreak of the coronavirus.

So far, only one Iraq camp resident is confirmed to have contracted the virus — a 
32-year-old Syrian man from Darashakran camp, near the Kurdistan Region town of Shaqlawa. 

Kurdish authorities have imposed a raft of policies to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus among the Kurdistan Region’s refugees and IDPs, including preventing residents from returning to camps for 30 days should they leave.

The restrictive measures have had negative side effects, however, with a doubling the price of goods placing further strain on already impoverished residents. Aid deliveries to camps have also suffered delays.

"Humanitarian action to save lives and alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations remains crucial,” Philippa Candler, the UNHCR’s Acting Representative said in the statement. 

“The socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on displaced people are huge, mainly because of the COVID-19 restrictions."

The donation comes less than a month after the US decided to cut the entirety of its $400 million funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN agency leading the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. Washington accused WHO of failing to contain the spread of the virus and not acting quickly enough to investigate its emergence in China in December.