BAGHDAD 24 March 1999

CASI web version: 1 October, 1999. Prepared by Chris Williams

In early 1999 the UN agencies working in Iraq prepared overviews of the situation in Iraq for the Security Council's Humanitarian Panel. This is the collection of their submissions. While some of its contents reappear in the Panel's report there is more information here.

CASI has prepared this web version from a print copy. That copy was scanned with character recognition software and then hand corrected. There are therefore at least two sources of error in this document. First, the original document contains errors; this may reflect the multi-national background of its authors. Second, scanning may also have produced errors. While we have sought to be careful, this document may nevertheless be less useful as a source of direct quotes than as a general reference document.

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Table of Attachments (internal links)
Section Topic Organisation Page no. in original:
1 Psycho-social Wellbeing of Children UNICEF 5
2 Mental Health WHO 9
3 Poverty Trends UNDP 12
4 Destitution WFP 16
5 Women in Deprivation UNDP 19
6 Personal Safety at Work: The Example of the Electricity Sector UN/DESA 21
7 Child Mortality UNICEF 23
8 The Disabled UNDP 24
9 The Elderly MDOU/UNOHCI 26
10 Population Dynamics UNDP 28
11 Education UNESCO 30
12 Deprofessionalisation UNOHCI 34
13 Electricity at Household Level UNDP 37
14 Mines and the Civilian Population: (a) Northern Iraq (b) Central and Southern Iraq UNOPS 39
15 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (a) Northern Iraq (b) Southern Iraq UNOHCI/North 44
16 Refugees in Iraq UNHCR 48



The Iraqi population has now been under severe restrictions for nearly nine years. In the initial years, the emphasis of humanitarian programmes was on minimizing the negative effects on the health and physical well being of the affected population. However, the country is presently in a situation where a whole new generation of citizens was born and is growing up in an environment of comprehensive deprivation. The population at large is forced to cope with the cumulative effects of this reality on the economic, social and cultural fabric of their daily lives.

Convinced that the constitution of the Panel on the Humanitarian Situation offers a unique and invaluable opportunity to assess the overall humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people, we senior UN officials have attempted, in this submission, to address critical social and economic issues. We are guided by the basic principles of the universality and indivisibility of human rights and by our daily realisation of the grave problems the Iraqi people encounter and have to cope with. In addition, the socio-economic situation underpins and affects the on-going humanitarian interventions and needs to be addressed if we wish to enhance impact and promote sustainability.

The issues presented in the submission are not always substantiated with comparative data because data are not collected in a comprehensive manner. What we have put together at best illustrates trends and draws attention to immediate and deepening concerns. Nevertheless we are convinced that the issues need to be given serious attention if there is a determination to address the crisis in view of the deteriorating social conditions. The lack of adequate data should not detract from the importance and significance of the issues themselves.

At the same time, the UN system should address the need for more reliable information on the social and economic situation in the country. This would imply that a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary assessment of the present situation be undertaken. Such an assessment could, inter alia,


The assessment would help in determining the short, medium and long-term effects of the present situation, identifying priorities and recommending future strategies and interventions.


Amir A. Khalil   Habib Rajeb
FAO Representative WHO Representative
Anupama Rao Singh Jutta Burghardt
UNICEF Representative WFP Representative
Habib Hajjar   Peter Kouwenberg
UNESCO coordinator   UNDP Resident Representative a.i.
Antonio Yachan   David Edwards
OIC, UNCHS (Habitat) Project Coordinator UNOPS Mines Action
Jean-Francois Donnard Denis Nwackukwu
Hans-C. von Sponeck  
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq  


The UNHCR Representative in Iraq also participated in the discussions of UN Agencies on the overall humanitarian situation in Iraq.



This note is based on document analyses and interviews with key informants of GOI and NGOs. As children's psychosocial well-being has not been systematically monitored hitherto, present data are scattered and often incomplete for the period under consideration (1989 to 1999). Conclusions will, therefore, be described as trends which need to be consolidated through further systematic observation.

The submission uses a diagnostic model which specifies the following conditions as vitally necessary for the normal, healthy psychological development of children into competent and responsible adults: physical health, a sense of safety and security, belonging to a caring reference group, opportunities for learning through exploration and achievement, development of knowledge and skills through education, prospects for work and partnership. In addition, attention is paid to groups with special protection needs like street children, orphans, juvenile delinquents, landmine victims and other children with disabilities.

This submission is guided, inter alia, by the following articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 23 (the right of the disabled child to special care, education and training); Article 24 (the right to the highest attainable standard of health and medical care); Article 27 (the right to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development); Article 28 (the right to education); Article 29 (the right to education that aims at developing the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest extent) and Article 39 (the right of child victims of armed conflict, torture, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation to appropriate treatment for their recovery and social integration).


Early childhood: Chronic malnutrition continues to affect every fourth child under five years of age, both in the north and center/south of Iraq, while about 1 in 10 children in the south/center are currently malnourished (UNICEF Iraq Annual Report 1998). Malnutrition, particularly in early age, damages the child's physical and cognitive capabilities and thus reduces its normal developmental chances from the very beginning.

Officials and families report an increase in congenital and acquired childhood disabilities. The reasons are malnutrition of the mother and the baby, perinatal complications due to deficient health services, an increase of communicable diseases and high fevers in early childhood that go unattended because of lack of medication (M. A. Temprano: Situation of Children with Disabilities in Iraq-- Brief Study for Communication Programme, UNICEF Iraq, 1998; Interview with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 23.3.99).

A baby whose hunger remains frequently unsatisfied does not develop trust in the world. Most Iraqi parents worry constantly about how to cater for their families' needs and transmit these worries to their children (UNICEF: Children and Women in Iraq - A Situation Analysis, 1992; Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.99). Today's young' children in Iraq, therefore, grow up with a deep sense of insecurity about the satisfaction of their basic survival and development needs, and children as young as 4 years are already involved in income-generating activities in order to contribute to the family income, most of them working in the streets. (UNICEF/SCF-UK: Survey on Children in Exceptionally Difficult Circumstances in Erbil Governorate - Northern Iraq, 1997).

The family atmosphere also suffers from persistent psychological distress. Exhausted parents who can hardly meet the family's basic needs are naturally less sensitive and caring towards their children, and deprived children often add through their consequent difficult behavior to parents' distress. An increase of family conflicts and child abuse has been observed (UNICEF: Children and Women in Iraq - A Situation Analysis, 1992; Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.99). More children are forced by their parents to work in the streets (T.T. Al Jadir: Study on the Vagrancy Phenomenon, Baghdad, 1998). Other reports indicate an increase in family break ups, resulting in an increase of the number of orphans (Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.99, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 23.3.99). Families whose resources for loving care are depleted through long-term multiple distress can no longer provide their children with a sense of belonging.

Finally, the home environment of many young children has become depleted of toys, books and other opportunities for self-directed learning and achievement (Iraq's first Periodical Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1996; Report of the Government of Iraq on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee for Children's Rights, Geneva, 1998). Impaired physical well-being also undermines curiosity, exploration and achievement motivation. Because of these deficits, many children do not develop a healthy self-esteem and sense of mastery.

Middle Childhood: In middle childhood, malnutrition continues to impair children's ability to concentrate, learn and memorize and thus reflects negatively on their educational progress. (Iraq's First Periodical Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,1996)) There are currently no data on the nutritional status of older children, yet an increase in malnutrition, diseases and deaths has been observed (UNICEF Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Iraq, 1997). Worrying about basic needs also distracts children from learning and other creative and productive activities and thus reflects negatively on the course of their intellectual development.

Net enrolment rates in primary education have in fact declined from 93.9% in 1990/91 to 80.0% in the center/south in 1997/98 (MoU/SCR Impact Assessment: Education Sector School Survey Results, 1999). Dropout rates are reported to be on the increase, but the available data are inconsistent. In addition, many schools, particularly in the center/south, continue to suffer from a lack of school equipment and teaching material. Nowadays less Iraqi children, with limited capability to concentrate and absorb information, go to often poorly equipped primary schools and thus gain considerably less from school education than children did 10 years earlier.

Some data indicate that children and adolescents resort more to living in the streets and committing criminal acts in order to survive. The number of male street children who are referred to rehabilitation centers has increased at least fivefold since the early 90s (Interview with A. A. Rafour, Director, Rehabilitation Center for Boys, Al Rashad/Baghdad, 20.3.99). Among female street children, the number of beggars has increased (Interview with N. Al Badri, Director, House for the Rehabilitation and Supervision of Juvenile Girls, Baladia Saba'a Al Nisan/Baghdad, 20.3.99J. The number of juvenile court cases increased from 2600 in 1991 to 4420 in 1996 (UNICEF Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Iraq, 1997). The number of convicted juveniles in rehabilitation schools for boys increased from 18% in 1990 to 32% in 1994 (Iraq's First Periodical Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1996).

Adolescence: According to observations of health professionals, many adolescents suffer from malnutrition and related health problems, but also from depression as they see little hope for their future (Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.99).

In the field of education, the system of Yafeen classes for illiterate children above primary school age and school dropouts is reported to function in the northern governorates but has lost influence in the center/south, partly because of lack of attendants, although illiteracy continues to be a problem in spite of all achieved progress. On university level, students now have to pay for books and laboratory equipment which becomes too expensive for many. Students work often besides studying, which has led to the opening of evening classes at colleges and universities. Many students are no longer motivated to pursue higher education as they are sure that they will not be able to work in their profession (Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.99). In short, educational institutions for adolescents lack staff, equipment and material, and students pursue their education with less energy and motivation, as many have to work to contribute to their families' income. The overall educational level of the younger generation is declining.

Many adolescents and young adults do not expect to work in the profession they have been trained for and know that they have to struggle against poverty and unemployment. Particularly in families with medium income, adolescents and young adults tend to postpone marriage as they do not have the financial means to pay the bride price and found new households (Interview with the Iraqi Family Planning Association, 22.3.993). There are indicators for a rise in marriage age and a reduction of the number of children in young families (Ministry of Health - TBA Programme: Survey of Family Planning, Delivery Services and Birth Attendants in Iraq, 1997). A considerable number of today's adolescents and young adults in Iraq no longer expect to be able to found and maintain their own families, which reflects negatively on their sense of identity and self-worth.


The prevailing living conditions in Iraq have resulted in serious impairments of the most important conditions for children's healthy psychosocial development and have led to an increase of the number of children in need of special protection. The available data and observations show, however, that both the efforts of GOI and the contributions of the OFFP leave substantial developmental and special protection needs of children unmet. The lack of presently available social and material resources reflects particularly negatively on the situations of children in their families, but also on the education sector and on the situation of institutions for the protection of vulnerable groups (orphans, the disabled and street children). These institutions have decreased in number of facilities and beneficiaries, mostly due to the inability of GOI to provide adequate housing, transportation, staff, equipment and educational material.


While hard data is scarce, this review does indicate that the upward trend in numbers of working and street children as well as insecurity in family environments, needs to be addressed within the scope of the humanitarian programme.

A systematic monitoring and observation system should be developed in order to collect and analyze reliable data on the impact of humanitarian interventions on the psychosocial well-being of children, adolescents and the population as a whole.


2. Mental Health: A Review by WHO


Disasters that affect the life of any community always lead to psycho-social disturbances with a varying degree of severity depending on the degree of exposure and the duration and impact on the daily life of individuals and families.

The Iraqi population, after eight years of heavy war with Iran, was subject, for six months between the invasion of Kuwait and the gulf war, to a very tense climate characterized by a standing military threat in addition to economic sanctions which started in August 1990, then came the heavy military attack for more than a month and where the most sophisticated arms have been used against military as well as civil infrastructure targets.

The life of people has been rapidly affected. No electricity, no fuel for cooking, the stored food was spoiled, water contaminated and resulting in explosion of diarheal diseases and increased number of deaths among young children. Within a very short time the quality of life changed from that of an emerging modern country to the one of poor country affected by disaster. Food prices rose sharply, far beyond the capacity of ordinary people.


The war stopped leaving a basic infrastructure severely damaged and a population traumatized by the heavy casualties and military incidents such as the bombing of Al Amerya shelter where about 400 people died.

Though the military threat was part of the scene from time to time, the almost nine years standing sanctions led the vast majority of people to a state of poverty. Most of people sold whatever they could sell to survive. The social values have been severely affected with dramatic behavioral changes. Robbery which was unknown has become widely spread leading sometimes to the most horrifying killing crimes and reaching the climax in 1994 and 1995. There was a sharp decrease when SCR 986 was adopted by the Security Council.

The daily struggle to meet the minimum basic needs and the rise of criminality led to a feeling of insecurity but indifference as regards military threats as people became prepared for the worst. The last strike in December 1998 was met with a mixed feeling one of the indifference and the other of hope that the situation may change by lifting of sanctions to end their misery.

The indifference and behavioral change are striking. Children and particularly boys are very much valued in a traditional society and families accept sacrifice for their education. Families and people accept now to see them beggars on the streets after they drop out of school or even do not enroll in school judging from the age of many of them.

Many of these children work to add to their family income but many of them may be used by criminals. Work opportunities are rare and people, including skilled professionals are ready to do any thing to make their living. This is happening in a society which lived with proudness all along its history.

The other stressful aspects of life is the chronic and acute shortages of general as well as special or life saving drugs. The service delivery conditions have deteriorated and after the first two years of sanctions the quality was so poor (lack of drugs, breakdown of equipment, absence of budget for hospital running costs, erosion of general living conditions of staff etc..) that people would not come to health institutions unless they had no other alternative.

Military threats, poverty and poor environmental conditions, poor water quality, spread of malnutrition and disease, lack of quality and essential care, disruption family values, diminished opportunity for work, high inflation, postponement of marriage for economic reasons, all such factors added to each other affecting the mental health of people and led to an increase of mental and psychological disorders.

The indicators that show the seriousness of the psycho-social situation in Iraq could be summarized as follow:


  1. The number of mental health patients attending the health facilities rose by 157% from 1990 to 1998, i.e., from 1970~5 attendance in 1990 to 507206 in 1998.
  2. The total number of hospital admissions for mental disorders rose from 6736 in 1990 to 15996 in 1998 with an increase of about 137%.
  3. The number of young children and adolescents, below the age of 14 years and suffering from mental disorders increased by 124% between 1990 and 1998. The percentage of children below 10 years of age and with mental distress rose from 42% in 1996 to 56% in 1997.
  4. 30% - 50% of medical or surgical cases, from different causes, were found to be mentally ill.
  5. Observations from the private sector mention an increase in the number of patients seeking case for mental disorders by more than 200% over the past years.
  6. The number of university students who drop out or request postponement of studies has been steadily increasing over the sanctions years.
  7. There is a many fold increase in the number of people leaving their job because of mental health problems.
  8. Sick leaves because of mental illness became very common in psychiatry practice.
  9. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help from traditional practitioners because they or their family believe they are under sorcery or possessed by the Jinnee.
  10. There is a noticeable increase in the number of the following mental disorders:
  1. Vagrancy and different types of anti-social behaviors have increased among chronic psychiatric patients because of lack of drugs and disastrous conditions in psychiatric hospitals as a result of sanctions.

During the strike in December 1998 people carried out their business as usual. It was also noted that people did not rush to the market to buy and store food and there were no changes in the prices. However much more patients rushed to hospitals and health centers to get-drugs fearing more strikes.


3. Poverty Trends: A Review by UNDP

Having the largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, Iraq is still to come to terms with the notion of poverty. In fact, prior to the war with Iran, which started in 1980, the country was close to a welfare state. In 1987 the GNP p.c. was still at a comfortable level of $3,508 (Source: Iraq's first National Human Development Report, sponsored by UNDP, 1995J. Systematic research on poverty is yet to start.

A UN report issued in October 1991 by an international study team described Iraq in the early and mid 1980s as a country fast approaching standards comparable to that of developed countries. An extensive and sophisticated health system was in place. Clean and abundant drinking water was the norm. Sophisticated sewage (treatment plants kept water quality of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates at a reasonable level, and a modern network of telecommunications extended to all urban and rural areas. Twenty-four electrical power generation stations were the key component of the infrastructure.

The eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) inflicted severe damage to basic services in the seven governorates bordering Iran. The economy was still in the process of recovering from war when the Gulf War broke out. Although this was much shorter, it was more extensively devastating. Thereafter, and over a short period of time, economic changes threw the country completely out of balance, economically as well as socially. The country has experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty.

The Human Poverty Index, used by the Human Development Report (commissioned by UNDP) to consider all dimensions of deprivation in human life, takes into account living standard, knowledge and longevity. In 1998, Iraq was ranked 42 out of the 77 poorest countries (with low human development) in the world, 39 in 1997. In 1991, Iraq was still classified as a country with medium human development.


Growth in GDP, a prerequisite for sustained poverty alleviation, was estimated at 9.3% in the 1970s (Source: Ibraihi Ahmed, 1995); This dropped to -1.4% in the 1980s. It is estimated that without the Gulf Crisis in 1990, GNP p.c. could have been $3,307 by 1996 (Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA). In 1995 this was, however, estimated at $705, making the country, at least in terms of income, comparable with such countries as Madagascar and Rwanda.

While the official exchange rate continues to be ID 1 for $3.33, the free market rate is now ID 1 for $0.0005 (or $1 for ID 1,960 in March 1999). Those with fixed incomes (in Government, pensioners) were hardest hit as their nominal salaries and benefits remained unchanged. According to situation analyses made by UNICEF in 1998, the average public sector wage declined to the equivalent of $3-$5 per month. The minimum income required for a family of 5 is $100. Better opportunities abroad have led to the departure of a large number of qualified nationals, seriously affecting the Government's capacity to manage an already crippled economy. The middle class, a prerequisite for a stable society, vanished.

ESCWA has estimated that in 1993 81% of the population was living below a poverty line of $14.4 per month, with negligible differences between rural and urban areas. In 1997, following the implementation of the food-for-oil deal, a recalculation made by ESCWA resulted in a population of 55% living below the poverty line (then defined at $9.1 per month).

In 1990, the most prominent sectors contributing to the GDP were the oil, agriculture and manufacturing industries. During the period 1991-1996 the construction sector lost 82% of its share, industry 52 %. On aggregate, the commodity sector lost 43.3%, and the distribution sector 44.3% (Source: Ibraihi Ahmed, 1995). The dominating economic sectors are now the distribution and services, contributing 81% to the GDP (Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, 1999).

While unemployment used to be 4%, it is now rampant. Some non-official estimates refer to a rate of 20%, but this may be on the low side as there is an enormous hidden unemployment. According to estimates received from bilateral sources, the rate is probably about 50%, excluding black market workers. inflation was about 250% per year from 1994 to 1997 (Source: The Economist, l999). Persistent shortage of basic goods keeps prices high. According to the Economist, "inflation is likely to remain at around 140% in 1999". The Government's tendency to borrow from the Central Bank to finance its budget deficit adds in keeping inflation high. With a never-ceasing money printing press, the country, since 1990, bears all the characteristics of a war economy.


A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, undertaken by UNICEF in 1996, revealed serious increases in the prevalence rates of malnutrition in particular in central and southern Iraq. Malnourished underweight children increased to 26%, stunting to 31% and wasting to 11%. Infant mortality rose from 24 per 1,000 live births in 1990 (Source: Iraq NHD Report, 1995) to 93 in 1998 (Source: Iraqi Planning Commission).

During the Gulf Crisis poultry farms were targeted and thus the production capacity was almost wiped out. Although an improvement has been achieved thanks to the food-for-oil formula, chicken and beef are almost out of reach for the large majority of the population due to their high prices.

Vegetable and fruits production, now increasingly important as the diet is changing, remains constrained due to lack of quality seeds, plant protection chemicals and fertilisers. The total production of vegetables is estimated at 90 kg per head per annum. Local production of vegetables and fruits is only meeting 10% of the population requirements (source: FAO). The daily average ca10rie intake dropped from 3,581 in 1988 to 2,544 now. Children under 5 are the hardest hit. The Food Security situation, critical in 1996, is still very fragile (FAO).


Education, free of charge at all levels prior to 1990, has become relatively expensive. The enrolment rate of 56% in 1990 for the age group of 6-23 years, dropped to 26% in 1994 (Source: Iraq NHD Report, 1995). Due to lower school attendance, at least 32% of 6-year old children will have no opportunity to receive basic education. The quality of education has deteriorated as many qualified teachers have left their positions due to inadequate salaries. The adults' literacy rate, 89% in 1985, dropped to 59% in 1995 (Source: Human Development Report, 1998).


Prior to 1990, quality Primary Health Care Services covered 78% of the rural population and 97% of the urban population through health institutions located nation-wide. Presently, the number of people visiting these institutions decreased dramatically. Poor health services, lack of drugs and expensive transportation costs were among the main reasons. The population per nurse increased from 489 in 1990 to 1,746 in 1993 (Source: Iraq NHD Report, 1995). Diseases previously brought under. control have re-emerged, such as malaria, cholera and tuberculosis (Source: WHO). One-year old children immune against Tuberculosis were 57% in 1993, against 66% in 1990 (Source: Iraq NHD Report, 1995). Typhoid fever increased from 2,000 cases in 1989 to 27,000 cases in 1997.

The water supply and sanitation systems remain critical throughout the country with the Basrah area being the most serious. A UNCHS/UNEP Joint Task Force found that there are practically no operating wastewater facilities in medium-size cities. In Baghdad they operate at 30% of their design capacity. The quality of water deteriorated substantially from an average 5% of water samples contaminated in 1989 to 35% in 1997.

Longevity stands as the last, but not least, evidence of growing poverty in Iraq. After a steady increase in the 1970s and 1980s, life expectancy at birth was 62.5 years in 1987. It started to decrease to 60.3 in 1993 (Source: Iraq NHD Report, 1995). In 1995, life expectancy in Iraq was only 59 years (Source: Human Development Report, 1998).


Comprehensive social surveys to be conducted on: Households sources of income and patterns of expenditures, employment and wages, nutritional, health and sanitation situation, education situation, illiteracy, etc.

Researches are required on: Gender dimensions of poverty, causes of poverty and inequality, informal sector employment and income generating activities, food security and production capacity of agriculture.

List of References

  1. UNDP, Human Development Reports (1990-1998).
  2. Harvard Study Team "Special Report: The Effect of the Gulf Crisis on the Children of Iraq", New England Journal of Medicine, 1991, Vol. 325: 977-80.
  3. Al-Muhajir, Mohammed Kadhim, "A Study on Poverty in Iraq", 1995.
  4. UNDP, "Preventing and Eradicating Poverty", volume 2, 1997.
  5. UNDP, "Overcoming Human Poverty", UNDP Poverty Report 1998.
  6. Central Statistical Organisation/UNICEF, "Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey", 1997.
  7. Ibraihi, Ahmed "Economic Sanctions", study submitted to a seminar at the Arab Economist Association, Baghdad, 1995.
  8. Ibraihi, Ahmed "Foreign Sector and Macro-economic Policy-, paper presented to the Iraqi Economist Association, 1995.
  9. The World Bank "Human Development Report 1994", 1994.
  10. UNICEF Iraq, Annual Report 1997.
  11. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status Survey at Primary Health Centres during Polio National Immunisation Days in Iraq", April 1997.
  12. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status Survey of Infants in Iraq", Oct.-Nov. 1997.
  13. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status of Children under Five in the Autonomous Northern Region, Iraq". June 1998.
  14. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status Survey at Primary Health Centres During Polio National Immunisation Days in the Three Northern Governorates" April 1998.
  15. UNICEF Iraq "Review of Community Child Care Units in the Nutrition Programme", August 1998.
  16. UNICEF Iraq, "Review of Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres in the Nutrition Programme", November 1998.
  17. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status Survey of Infants in Iraq", Final Report, October-November 1998.
  18. UNICEF Iraq "Nutritional Status of Children Under Five in Northern Governorates". Final Report, November 1998.
  19. UNICEF Iraq "Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq", April 1998.
  20. FAO "FAO Representation in Iraq; Briefing Notes", September 1998.
  21. UNESCWA "The economic problems and Potentialities", Study no. 3, Sustainable Human Development Net, 1998.
  22. Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Planning Commission "Annual Abstracts of Statistics", 1990-1996.


4. Destitution: A Review by WFP

Little if any official information on the poverty and destitution in Iraq in the post-1990 period has been available. Likewise, unofficial information is limited to mission reports and assessments or subjective evidence lacking the scientific base-line substance. Due to the lack of resources, local authorities are unlikely to have coherent statistical data on the level of destitution in Iraq. A comprehensive picture on destitution would require an in-depth expert analysis and is beyond the current capacities of WFP in Iraq. Only partially accountable and reliable information based on incomplete data can be provided.


The poverty line itself has not been established in Iraq in the post-1990 period. However, an impoverished and increasingly diseased population has been by all evidence suffering a progressive decline into social decay. Over 90% of the population in 1999, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA)[1] live under the poverty line as defined by any international standard. The growing impoverishment is also easily identifiable by the medical indicators, such as tuberculosis rates[2]. A very high population growth rate under the circumstances has had further adverse impact on the well-being of Iraqis[3].

Normally, the Iraqi destitutes are registered with MOLSA on the basis of strict income and disability to work criteria. MOLSA national welfare system was relatively well-functioning in the 1970s and 1980s, at which time the destitute received a monthly cash allowance which amounted to the equivalent of roughly US $ 175 on average. The system, however, practically collapsed in 1990, as the GOI could no longer secure the budget for the social welfare system at the previous levels. FAO in 1995 reported that social welfare beneficiaries, as well as all civil servants in active service, military, police, civil servant and military pensioners, war veterans with over 60% disability (the total of 3.5 million people) were receiving a monthly allowance of Iraqi Dinar (ID) 2,000 (compares to US $ 1) since October 1994. In 1999, the cash allowance for the destitute amounts to ID 2,250 (compares to US $ 1.2). The harsh effects of deprivation, accompanied by tremendous hyperinflation and dramatic deterioration of living standards, resulted in sharply growing numbers of the destitute. As observed by WFP monitors, many people were registering in order to receive the additional support in food provided by international aid agencies. For illustration, the value of a WFP emergency programme food basket received through MOLSA exceeded the monthly allowance up to ten-fold. In 1994, facing the incapacity to cope with the rapidly increasing number of the destitute, MOLSA officially ceased to register new cases. This was another signal of growing poverty and the inability of the GOI to continue to provide a social safety net.


By 1991 the GDP had dropped by about three-quarters of its 1990 value to approximate that of the 1940s[4]. By September 1995, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that about 4 million Iraqis (20%) lived in extreme poverty[5]; these are mainly Iraqis living in areas with underdeveloped infrastructure and limited economic opportunities. The purchasing power of ID was greatly reduced, with a precipitous depreciation in the value, dropping from the equivalent of US $ 3 in 1990 to $ 1/3,000 by the end of 1995, although it managed to regain stability at about 1/1,500 during 1997[6]. As of 1994, by all evidence collected, government employees are earning on average between 4,000 and 6,000 ID (which compares to roughly US $ 2 - 3 in the period 1993 - 1999). Since 1990, a sharp drop in the per capita share[7] of the income was recorded, reflecting increased inequality of income distribution.


Since 1990, an ordinary Iraqi citizen has been dependant on the food ration[8] and at the same time had increasingly less opportunities to supplement it by purchases on the open market. The portion of income devoted to food increased with the decrease of income. The amount of food consumed by the Iraqi family with an average income in 1993 was only 31.3% of what that family had consumed in 1988[9]. By 1993 an average of 72 % of household incomes were used for the purchase of food[10]. FAO reported[11] in 1995 that the accessibility to food beyond the amounts provided through public rations has been limited by soaring food prices. The report slates that the Family Purchase Power Indicator (FPPI) for Iraq has been in constant decline.[12] Starting at 3.62 in 1990, the FPPI dropped to 0.15 in 1993, and to 0.06 in 1995. The post-1990 FPPI values are well below the 1.25 level which FAO considers as signal of household nutritional deficiency; such a level means that least 80% of a family's income is spent on food.

MOLSA[13] estimates that in 1999 approximately 60% of factories are closed; the remaining 40% operate at 10% of their capacities. There are no official data on unemployment, but the rate is obviously extremely high. Widespread unemployment is accompanied by inability of the government to timely pay its employees, who often receive their salaries, if any, with several months' delay. It can be well-assumed that most people look for a second job. While the jobs in the private sector are scarce, people often turn to the sphere of grey economy. Micro-agricultural production, wherever possible, even in highly urbanized areas, has been taken up in an effort to improve food security. The government itself reduced working hours to enable employees to seek alternative sources to supplement their income. increasingly, children, including very young ones, are seen in the streets working as shoe-polishers, cleaners, selling items, or simply begging. On the other hand, a significant brain drain followed the degradation of the society and those professionals who stayed on now had to accept alternative employment. The erosion of professional groups has also clearly affected their gender composition. In general, the possibility of additional income for the poorer strata of the population becomes more and more difficult.

To confront the aggravating living conditions, most of Iraqis have developed various coping mechanisms [or their meagre survival. It has become a common practice of ordinary Iraqis to offer not only their valuable possessions and/or productive assets, but also their basic household items, such as mattresses, pens and pots or personal clothes for sale which would enable them to buy supplemental food or other basic necessities. However, few people can buy the products offered on the market. It can be assumed that, over time, this mechanism is simply being exhausted. Thus, although food and other basic goods, including higher quality smuggled products, are readily available in Iraq, the prices are far beyond the means of the majority of impoverished Iraqis.

The devastation of the economy and of public services resulted in social deviations, mostly unknown among Iraqis prior to-1990. Vulnerable segments of the population have often found survival alternatives in begging, prostitution, scavenging, theft, looting, armed robbery, child-work, delinquency, etc.

A spiral of impoverishment since 1990 could not be arrested. With a lack of employment opportunities, people cannot adequately sustain themselves. Food aid cannot respond to the complexity of problems pertaining to a growing destitution among Iraqis. WFP believes that measures are needed under the humanitarian programme to avert the situation and help bringing people into a position to build their way towards self-sufficiency through economic activities.


  1. Stated by the Minister, MOLSA, at the meeting with WFP on 20th March 1999.
  2. Ibid. Tuberculosis trends in 1999 equal the rates of 1968.
  3. Ibid. Iraqi population grew from 16 million in 1987 to 23 in 1999.
  4. Economist Intelligence Unit 1996-97 p.l3
  5. UN Consolidate Inter-Agency Humanitarian Co-operation Programme for Iraq: (1995) Mid-Term Review
  6. UNICEF Report, 1997
  7. Iraqi Economist Association/UNDP Human Development Report, 1995, states the drop in "above average" and "average" income in 1993 as compared to 1988 from 36% and 7.9% to 31% and 6.3% respectively: at the same time, the "below average" group rose from 56% to 62.7%
  8. WFP observation data indicate that over 60% of the interviewed households in the south/centre and nearly 50% in the north report that SCR 986 rood ration lasts less than 20 days. The ration is obviously insufficient to cover the basic monthly needs, and must be supplemented.
  9. Iraqi Economist Association/UNDP Human Development Report, 1995.
  10. "Socio-economic Survey Report", Central Statistical Organization (CSO) of Iraq, Baghdad, 1994.
  11. FAO "Technical Co-operation Programme: Evaluation of food and Nutrition Situation", September 1995
  12. The FPPI is the ratio between the lowest monthly income and the total cost of a basic food basket for a six-member family, including an infant. It is not clear whether the GOI ration was included in the estimates.
  13. Stated by the Minister, MOLSA, at the meeting with WFP on 20th March 1999. The comparison refers to the pre-1990 period.


5. Women in Deprivation: A Review by UNDP

As is the case in other Arab countries, women's well being in Iraq is not solely dependent on the changing cultural niche which perpetuates women's unequal access to resources and hence hinders their development opportunities. It is equally, if not more important, that women's well being is predominantly linked to basic structural factors.

Since there are wide structural and socio-economic variations in the Iraqi society, it is not possible to talk about "the Iraqi Woman". The latter is to be qualified: the peasant, the worker, the professional, the illiterate, the politician, the scientist, the young, the elderly, the married, the healthy, the sick, or the housewife.

Lack of studies and research on these issues make it difficult to make an in-depth analysis. The prolonged Iraq-Iran war followed by the Gulf war resulted in wide prevalence of women-headed households. This has a great impact on the social fabrics where women started to assume more responsibilities and have additional roles; as fathers and breadwinners. A recent ESCWA study (1998) on women headed households in Iraq in general provides important clues on women in deprivation and the additional burden borne by this group following the Gulf crisis.


The main factors impeding the improvement of the socio-economic situation of women are:

The prevailing economic structure, sectoral and organisational, along with low wages provide very little incentives for women's participation in the economy.

In urban areas, the total number of women employed in 1997 did not exceed 50,000 out of total employment of 4,000,000 (1.3%), the lowest since 1985. This was mainly due to economic and administrative downward adjustment of the public sector, the main source of employment for educated women.

In rural areas, women participation in productive activities is almost equivalent to men, but their share in income is not proportionate with the level of their participation.


In the education sector, women educational level improved to a great extent as a result of free and compulsory education. At the primary level, the female enrolment rate was very close to that of the males (around 47% female against 53% male) during the 1980s. Dropout rates increased substantially after the Gulf crisis especially among girls. The General Federation of Iraqi Women in co-operation with UNICEF started informal classes for dropout girls planned to cover 6,000 girls. The demand was unexpectedly high; more than 11,000 girls enrolled during the first year.

In the other educational levels, not covered by compulsory education, the discrepancy is more pronounced (40% females against 60% males).


6. Personal Safely at Work: The Example of the Electricity Sector
A Review by UN/DESA

In the electricity industry, safety of personnel and equipment is considered as the most essential requirement and is always accorded highest priority. In Iraq also, the industry's international motto, "Safety First", is fully recognised and signs to that effect are displayed all over the sites and work places. Prior to Sanctions, many efforts were made to provide this sector with standard tools and equipment to fulfil the industrial safety requirements for both personnel and equipment. After the Gulf War, and in view of the lack of sufficient funds, safety conditions in this sector dramatically deteriorated below the minimum required levels. This situation has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of deaths and serious injuries at all levels of generation, transmission and distribution in the sector. In addition to that, due to the hazardous working environment, a high level of risk is continuing to threaten technical staff.

Through observation visits to power plants and distribution networks, UN International Observers have established that, it would be very difficult for the technical staff to fully respect the minimum safety rules and procedures-in view of the lack of proper safety tools and equipment. The financial allocations for this sector are entirely utilised for the purpose of meeting the urgent needs and requirements related to the repair and maintenance of the electrical generation systems in order to ensure supply of electricity to the most essential public service institutions at a minimal level. Even the above task is becoming increasingly difficult, as the limited number of spare parts and equipment ordered under different phases falls far short of meeting the needs of the rapidly decaying generation plants.

The critical situation of safety measures in the Iraqi electrical system can be summarised as follows:

  1. In their observation reports, UN International Observers have indicated that, there is almost a total lack of personnel safety materials, such as tools, helmets, ladders, belts, insulating gloves, safety wear and shoes, etc., which leads to different hazardous incidents. In different sites, several incidents were reported to, or witnessed by, the UN Observers, that resulted from staff operating equipment or conducting repairs along the production, transmission and distribution networks without the required personnel safety tools and wares.
  2. Lack of the essential communication equipment, which is a vital safety requirement in the operation and maintenance of the system, has caused many cases of loss of life and injuries. UN Observers personally witnessed one incident in Mosul City, where some technical staff working on a 33 kV feeder, sustained serious burn injuries, when the substation operator unintentionally switched on power to the feeder.
  3. UN Observers report that all power stations and distribution facilities are suffering from unsafe environmental and operating conditions. For example, leaks in the gas ducts of a boiler in a power station caused flue gases to contaminate the turbine house, leading to suffocation and breathing problems to the workers who operate the facility around the clock without safety masks. In addition to the many oil leaks, which increase fire hazard, hot water and steam leaks have been noticed every where in most power plants. Excessively high levels of noise and vibration, due to the old age of equipment and lack of adequate and standard maintenance, has become acceptable part of the work conditions in these facilities. Absence of such standard features as fire detection and extinguishing equipment and tools has been responsible for many hazardous incidents.
  4. Lack of protective devices and spare parts, such as circuit breakers and lightning arrestors, has caused burning of several distribution transformers at the end user level, in addition to the damages that normally occur to the industrial and domestic appliances. This has been clearly noted by the UN Observers during their visits to all governorates.
  5. Lack of original spare parts has obliged the electricity sector officials to seek other resources in the local market, leading to the use of substandard tools and equipment, far below the specifications recommended for personnel and material safety measures, which has exposed the staff and equipment to high level risks.
  6. Lack of training for the technical staff involved in the operation and maintenance of equipment, has adversely affected the staff performance in observing the safety rules and regulations for personal protection and equipment loss prevention.

In short, the industrial safety measures available in the electricity sector in Iraq represents a level which is totally unacceptable according to international standards, resulting in a very high rate of death and injuries to staff and damage and loss of material assets.



The precise number of infant and young child deaths is not known, although UNICEF considers there has been an increase, probably on a major scale since 1990 up to the present time. The under five mortality rate (U5MR) was-171/1000 live births in 1960, decreased to 48/1000 in 1990 and rose to 122/lQ00 in 1997 (UNICEF State of the World's Children, Table 8, 1999). This recent increase is supported by the rising mortality due to diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, combined with higher malnutrition rates since 1991 to 1998, confirmed by repeated surveys during this period.


The only regular source of information about the number of children who have died in Iraq is from the Vital Statistics Department, Ministry of Health, Government of Iraq, where monthly figures are presented. Their results have been included in The Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq, UNICEF/Iraq, April 1998 (page 25, fig 2.2). It shows that the cumulated total number of deaths of under fives from 1991 to 1996 inclusive was 290,000. Reported deaths rose from about 9,000 in 1990 to an average of about 50,000 per annum in later years. Since 1996, the number of reported deaths has remained high, based on the same source - 58,845 during 1997 and 71,279 during 1998. This cumulates to a total number of reported deaths of children under five from 1991 to 1998 inclusive at 420,000, with the peaks of 1997 and 1998 possibly linked to problems of exactitude of data. However, the most conservative estimates place the cumulative figure of deaths of Under Five children from 1991 to 1998 at 226,611 (Richard Garfield, Columbia University 1999).

Reliable estimates from regular sources of information require full reporting, consistency over lime and an appropriate information system. Prior to 1990, Iraq was able to maintain this system. Since 1990, the situation in Iraq has constrained information collection and reporting.

The Vital Statistics Department has provided regular data, but its reliability is unclear. On the one hand, over-reporting may be due to duplication, inclusion of stillbirths, lack of confirmation by a death certificate or inappropriate projections to the population. Under reporting may be due to lack of coverage (about one-half of births are delivered at home) or the cancellation of the due ration if the child was known to have died.


Because of the uncertainties of the mortality situation, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with UNICEF and WHO, is currently conducting a survey to estimate mortality of young children and mothers. UNICEF has fielded an international consultant to provide technical support for the planning, design and conduct of the survey. The survey covers 24,000 households throughout the South/Centre and will yield estimates for IMR, U5MR and Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR). Results are expected in May 1999. These will reflect the situation since 1991 and can be compared with the pre-1991 situation, using data from prior large-scale surveys in 1989 to 1991. A similar survey in the northern governorates will follow.


8. Disabled Persons: A Review by UNDP

WHO estimates that the number of disabled in any country is around 10% of the total population. For Iraq this would mean a number of more than 2 million people. However, during the period 1980 and 1991 Iraq was for more than 8 years involved in two wars (according to various sources, the Iraq-Iran war made 1.5 million victims at both sides). Besides, in the 3 northern governorates as well as southern Iraq a large number of mines have been placed*. The overall situation in 1999 suggests that the number of disabled in Iraq should be considerably higher than 2 million. Government statistics, however, estimate that at least in 1987 there were only 275,000 persons with mental and/or physical disabilities. The UN Agency in Iraq dealing with the disabled (ILO) assumes that the WHO yardstick is closer to reality.

Prior to the above period of war, the Government enacted a Social Welfare Law (1980). By many countries in the region this law was viewed quite progressive, as Iraq was the first in the Arab World to recognize medical, educational and economic rights of the disabled. The United Arab Emirates used it as an example and a basis for its own law. For 3 years, a Iraqi rehabilitation team helped establishing institutes in the UAE. In Iraq itself, more than 30 educational and rehabilitation institutes for the disabled were established. Moreover job opportunities for the disabled were created in various sectors of the Government as well as in the private sector. The Iraqi Labour Law stipulated that at least 3 percent of every employer's staff must be reserved for disabled employees. After 1991, the concerned paragraph was cancelled.

This paper will focus on the situation of the disabled children (i.e. up to 18 years) and the disabled adults (between 18-60 years, i.e. the productive years). The following information is based on the experience of a UNDP-funded project, under ILO-execution, which Focuses on vocational training and employment for the disabled.


Before 1990 there were 43 institutes in Iraq for children with disabilities (of which 18 in Baghdad), with a total, be it modest, capacity of 5,000. A chronic lack of financial resources since 1991 has resulted in:

As a consequence of the above, the present capacity of the educational institutions is only 30% of what it used to be. Families of disabled children have become economically more vulnerable and the children have become an additional financial burden.

Besides, a study carried out by UNICEF in 1998 attests that children with disabilities (physical or mental) are discriminated by the regular school system.


Prior to 1990 the government encouraged the employment of the disabled by the private sector, apart from absorbing some 150,000 of them into the Government (Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, MOLSA). Those not employed were receiving a monthly benefit of $200.

A galloping inflation (averaging 250% from 1994 to 1997, The Economist) along with a dramatic downward revision of the exchange rate has brought down the value of those adults receiving a monthly income to $1. No compensation for this loss of guaranteed income is in sight. It is estimated that this has affected some 1 million disabled. Those who used to have employment have been affected as follows:


Where the Law of 1980 attempted to bring the disabled back into the mainstream of economic life, the present situation is leading them into the opposite direction. There is an intense competition of the disabled unemployed adults with the unemployed non-disabled ones. Moreover, the disabled have become heavily dependent on their families. As a consequence, the most affected ones started selling their possessions, e.g. furniture, valuables and even houses, sending their children to work; Adults and children are now begging in the streets, a phenomenon unseen prior to 1990.


* From 1991 to 1998, not mentioning the death, at least 5,400 persons were injured by mines or Unexploded Ordnances in the three northern governorates and in New Kirkuk governorate (Source: UNOPS).


9. The Situation of the Elderly: A Review by MDOU/UNOHCI

Between the late 1970 and late 1980s, Iraq enjoyed relatively high standards of health, education and social services comparable to those of developed countries. By 1989, the oil dominated economy (composition of GDP: 61% oil, 22% services, 12% industry, 5% agriculture) had resulted in high public expenditure and prosperity for most Iraqis. The latter had also translated into considerable individual investment and savings, in Iraqi dinars.

However, eight years of war with Iran, a second Gulf War in 1991, and the years that followed the latter, have severely affected the above erstwhile good socio-economic conditions of the country and the wellbeing of its people. The deteriorations in health, education, water and sanitation and electricity sectors have generally brought unimaginable hardships to the majority of the Iraqi population. For the lower strata of the society, the vulnerable groups, including the aged, the situation has been critical. By September 1995, the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that some 20% (4 million) Iraqis lived in severely distressed or extremely underdeveloped infrastructure.

The collapse of Iraqi infrastructure and economy, and its attendant inflation and currency devaluation, had most severe effect on the aged. First, the value of their life savings were eroded and most were exhausted at the early stages of the sanctions regime, due to inflation. Striving to make a living, they resorted to selling off their earlier acquisitions, including properties and household goods.

The situation of the aged was not helped by the heavy toll in male population lost in the wars. Many of lhe aged lost their sons who would take care of their vulnerable positions. With no funds and no one to take care of them, mainly the aged succumbed to hunger and disease, and eventually death.

Accordingly, despite the reduced birth rate, there has been a decline in the percentage of the aged population, from 3.8% to 2.9% for males and 3.8% to 3.6% for females, between 1990 and 1995. Recent figures from the Iraqi Vital and Health Statistics Department of the Ministry of Health indicate that death among children and the aged (dubbed as "old children" in a recent lecture at Baghdad University), increased from 835 in February of 1989 to 9,162 in February of 1999, a rise of about 1100%. The same statistics indicated that some 5,572 of these deaths occurred among persons aged above 50 years.

Although MOU implementation increased food availability, due to improved rations, and also improved the health situation, malnutrition among the vulnerable groups has persisted. Two factors have contributed to this. The continued practice by the groups of selling part of their rations to raise cash for other needs like clothing and shelter (rents), and the collapse of the system of shelter/home for the elderly. Unable to meet the latter demand, Iraqi Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in collaboration with MOFA, on 2919198, conducted Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations on a tour of some of the old peoples homes. The tour revealed the appalling conditions of the old peoples home in Baghdad. The limitations of the Ministry in providing for the old persons/aged is evident from the fact that there are only three old people homes in Iraq, located in Baghdad, Basrah, and Ninewa. The occupancy of these homes between 1904 and 1996 is shown below.

[figure here in the original: Number of occupants of Iraq's three old people's homes (Baghdad, Basrah, Ninewa) by gender, 1994 - 1996]

Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Services

As seen from the above, and despite the dearth of overwhelming empirical data, the position of the aged in the current Iraqi situation has been exasperating. Deprived of their life savings by years of inflation, and, for some of them, the care of their sons lost in the wars, and selling their properties and household goods and later food rations to provide for maintaining essential needs like shelter and clothing, these aged persons continue to succumb to combined forces of frustration, hunger and disease, and eventual death, unarguably in greater numbers than the pre-l991 era.


10. Population Dynamics: A Review by UNDP

The Government used to have a pro-natalist family planning policy. Therefore, the related services used to be provided on medical indication only, through the Iraqi Family Planning Association and the private sector. In 1994, the Revolutionary Command Council issued a decree enabling women to receive family planning services. The ban on the provision of contraceptives was lifted, and the Ministry of Health agreed with the Iraqi Family Planning Association that family planning services be granted through Ministry of Health and IFPA institutions all over the country. The IFPA is presently the sole provider of contraceptives. It receives support from the UN Fund of Population Activities.


The following figures are derived from the latest census (unless otherwise indicated) carried out by Iraq (1997); the details of the census have not yet been officially released yet.

In 1987, the population of Iraq was 16,385,000 with a growth rate of 3.2% (Source: 1987 census) which, was considered high. In 1997, it was 22,040,094 inhabitants. The present growth rate is 3.0%. It is predictable that a very high population growth under the current circumstances would have further adverse impact on the well being of the Iraqis. About 68% of the population live in urban areas. The division between the sexes is about equal (Source: 1997 census).

The crude birth rate dropped as a result of a decreased number of marriages since 1990. Registered marriages dropped from 170,383 in 1989 to 120,692 in 1995. (Source: Central Statistical Abstracts). The fertility rate dropped from 6.2 per 1,000 in 1987 to 4.7 per 1,000 in 1993. (Source: Iraqi Planning Commission, 1998).

Mortality rates have been rising to abnormally high levels, particularly among infants and children. Whereas it steadily declined annually by an average of 2% during the period 1974-1990 to 8 per 1,000 inhabitants, it jumped thereafter to 11.3 in 1993 (Source: Planning Commission). The maternal mortality rate was estimated at 50 per 100,000 live births in 1989. This has risen to 117 in 1997. The government target, however, was to reduce it to 40 in the year 2000.

The under-five mortality rate increased from 30 per 1000 live births during the period 1989 - 1993. (Source: Ministry of Health). The infant mortality rate substantially declined in the 1980s. It was 24 per 1,000 births in 1987 (Source: Iraq National Human Development Report, 1995). In 1994, it rose to 118 (Source: Planning Commission); it decreased to 93 in 1998 (Source: Iraqi Family Planning Association).

The major causes of mortality and morbidity in Iraq are communicable childhood diseases, lack of food security, safe drinking water, and electricity for vital services (Source: UNICEF).

The decline in population growth has been accentuated by increased emigration since the beginning of the 1990s, particularly among unmarried young males.


The population has a relative young age structure; 40% of the population (1998 estimates) is younger than 15 years. According to the census, people under 15 decreased from 45.8% in 1987 (census), to about 41.~% in 1995 and to about 40,1% in 1999. The age group 15-64 rose from 51.4% in 1990 to 55.1% in 1995 and to 56.7% in 1999. Opposed to that, the proportion of the elderly (65-year old and above) dropped from 5 % in 1977 to 3.2% in 1999 (Source: Planning Commission).


More than two third of the population are living in urban areas. The percentage of the urban population has been increasing during the last three decades, from 64% in 1977 (census data), to 70% in 1987; it was estimated to become 72% in 1995. (Source: National Human Development Report, 1995). However, according to the first results of the 1997 census, the urban share declined to 68%. This decline is likely due to: i) limited working opportunities, and government restrictions to settle in urban areas; ii) the improvement of the food rationing system and, as a consequence, of the food supplies for people living in rural areas.


  1. Planning Commission, Estimates of the Population of Iraq by Age Groups for the Period 1907-2000.
  2. Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), 1987 census, 1997 census-primary figures.
  3. Country Paper submitted by the Planning Commission to the Arab Conference on Implementing Working Programme of the International Conference on Population and Development. held by ESCWA in September 1998, Lebanon.
  4. Central Statistical Organisation, Annual Abstracts of Statistics, 1987-1996.
  5. UNICEF/Iraq. Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq, April 1998.
  6. National Human Development Report. 1995. Iraqi Economists Society.
  7. Iraqi Family Planning Association. Report, March 1999.


11. The Education Sector: Pre-sanctions to 1995/96
A Review by UNESCO

Pre-primary: Gross enrolment rate is selected as a key indicator to measure growth at the pre-primary level. The rate recorded for both 1990/91 and 1995/96 is 7 percent of the total 4 -5 age group. An attempt made to compare this figure with some neighbouring countries showed 52, 74, 7 and 33 for Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain respectively for the year 1995.

Primary and secondary: The analysis of selected basic indicators shows a negative trend for the primary education sector in Iraq. The gross enrolment ratio for primary and secondary levels was 111 and 47 percent respectively for the school year 1990/91. The ratio for the two levels together was 82 percent for the same school year. The school year 1995/96 witnessed a visible decline in gross enrolment ratio i.e. 91.7 percent for primary, 39 for intermediate level (12-14iage group) and 16 for preparatory level (15-17 age group); lagging way behind the percentage for the Middle East for the years 1990-96 (62 for male and 51 far the female children for the secondary level). For comparison sake the figures for primary GER for the whole region i.e. the Middle East are 97 percent for male and 83 for female children.

For the years 1993-97 the net enrolment was estimated at 88 for male and 80 percent for female children for the same region. For the secondary level the GER was 62 for males and 51 percent for females for the region during 1990-96. It was also revealed that enrolment figures, as of the total number of 6-23 year old children was 56 percent and 42.5 percent for 1990 and 1995 respectively. Overcrowding and the necessity for shifts did not help in increasing enrollment rates neither at the primary nor at the secondary levels.

In Iraq the net enrolment rate (NER) for primary and secondary levels was seen to decline since the eighties. In 1980 Iraq had almost managed to secure 100 percent net enrolment rate for the primary level. The rate declined by 21 percent in the year 1992 i.e. 79 percent. For the secondary level the 1980s witnessed a relatively better performance in relation to NER i.e. 47 percent. This percentage shrank to 37 percent in 1992. The ratio for female children was only 30 percent.

Admission in Grade 1: The admission rate for grade one was 119 percent in 1990 and increased to 121 in 1994. In 1996 the rate recorded for admission was 110 percent. This shows that a large number of over-aged children (children above the entry age of 6) are attending grade 1. According to Multiple Indicator Survey - 1996 the average percentage of 6 years old children who entered primary school was 68. The disparity between urban and rural areas is wider with 75 percent and 53 percent respectively. The range extends from 42 percent for Wasit Governorate to 95 percent for the Governorate of Missan (urban and rural combined).

In the North the percentage recorded for admission of 6 years old children to grade 1 for the above-indicated period (1996) was 85, 71,and 63 for Suleimaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk respectively.

According to official figures, the gross enrolment rate (6 - 11 years) shows a constant declining trend between 1990/91 (107.8%) and 1994/95 (100.6%). Estimates for the period 1997/98 indicate a further reduction of GER to 87.7% for Centre/South Iraq and 88.6% for Northern Iraq.

Internal efficiency - primary and secondary: Student now statistics for Iraq, for the period 1988/89 to 1995/96 show a slight decrease in the percentage of repetition. In 1988/89 the average ratio of repetition for the primary level was 19. The range extends from 15 (grade III) to 30 (grade V). The average for primary level decreased slightly in 1992/93 i.e. 16 percent. At the secondary level the ratio of repetition was 32 percent for the school year 1988/89. In 1992/93 the rate recorded for repetition for academic intermediate was 34.1, During the above indicated period the ratio of dropouts for primary level increased from 2.2 percent to 3 percent. The ratio for secondary level was 2.5 percent in 1988/89 and 5.5 percent in 1995/96 i.e. a 3 percent increase since 1988/89. Statistics collected from the Northern Governorates show the following figures (see table 6) For repetition and dropout for the school year 1994/95. Deterioration of the school environment, lack of essential educational materials, poorly motivated teachers and the economic and political situation in general are some of the factors that are believed to have attributed to then prevailing condition of the education sector.

Higher education: 197,786 students of whom 35 percent female were enrolled in institutions for higher learning for the school year 1991/92 in the Centre/South. The total number of the teaching staff was estimated at 10,5ZO. Number of students per 100,000 inhabitants was 781, 803, 1067 and 1188 for the years 1975, 1980, 1985 and 1988 respectively; an increase of 52 percent between 1975 and 1988. In 1991/92 only, 37,240 students of whom 47 percent were female graduated from all institutions of higher learning. The figures have soared to 232,896 and 11,685 for students and teaching staff respectively for 1995/96. In the same year 33, 653 (40 percent female) students graduated from universities and technical institutions. The size of postgraduate studies was also seen to increase by 142 percent i.e. from 3628 to 8784. The female percentage size at postgraduate studies did also increase from 21 in 1991/92 to 28 in 1995/96.

A total of 56,789 students (42 percent female) were admitted to higher education in 1991/92. Admission reached 82,789 (32 percent female) in 1995/96 i.e. 46 percent growth since 1991/92. While the size of admission is seen to grow, the percentage of female students declined from 42 to 32 between the years in question.

Another issue of concern could be the fact that the institutions for higher learning have lost contact with the outside world on the one hand and that there has not been access to new technology and books and reference materials on the other. This could also lead us to another question. Whether the education provided by these institutions is of high quality or not? Whether it is really in a position to respond to the country's highly skilled manpower needs or not? Whether it was keeping abreast with developments in science in general or not? It is suggested that these and some other issues of quality and relevance will have to be looked into further.

Literacy: Literacy rate was estimated at 52 percent for the whole of Iraq in 1977. By the year 1987 this-number increased to 80 percent. This is attributed to the success of the massive literacy campaign conducted during the late seventies and early eighties. Iraq was awarded an international trophy before the sanction for the remarkable progress it made to eradicate illiteracy. Table 7 shows on progress in literacy in different years and the corresponding ages. In 1995, the rate of illiteracy was estimated at 42 percent; a major shift in favour of illiteracy. The illiteracy rate for women was estimated at 65 percent for the same period, which is more or less the same to that of the Middle East, i.e., 63 percent. The government believes that illiteracy was making a rapid comeback in the country, i.e., at an average rate of about 5 percent every year since the imposition of the sanctions.

Teacher education: The anticipated need to provide sufficient trained manpower for an expanding education system deemed necessary the expansion of the teacher training institutes. In 1990/91 there existed a total of 43 institutes (39 teachers training institutes and 4 central institutes for teachers training) of whom 4 were in the North. A total number of 32,002 students were enrolled in all grades in the same year; 12 percent increase since 1986187. Admission for the same years revealed a 34 percent increase, i.e., from 6817 to 9124. While the duration of study at the teachers training institutes is five years after intermediate school level that of central teachers training institutes is two years after secondary school level. Teachers who do meet these requirements are considered to be qualified. Until 1990/91 all teachers serving the education system did meet the above-indicated requirement.

Some interesting developments were revealed between 1990/91 and 1995/96 in the area of teacher training. These developments are elaborated in the table below.

There seems to be a steady decline in every aspect of the indicators stated above. That of admission is something that raises concern. It is an alarming situation indeed. Given the trend is still continuing, Iraq will no more be in a position to provide this type of programmes in the near future. This justifies information emanating from several sources that the government is practicing alternative ways of recruiting teachers, i.e., compromise quality by reverting to short term training programmes This, amongst others, is believed to be attributed to lack of funding, lack of motivation on the part of trainees and trainers and lack of training materials.

The practice resulted in growth of the size of unqualified teachers. A school survey conducted by UNICEF in the North, in 1998 revealed that 13 percent of the teachers are unqualified. The percentage recorded for the Governorate of Erbil was 26 as of total of the number of teachers in that governorate.

Pupil/teacher ratio: An interesting development revealed during the period in question (1990/91 and 1995/96) is the improved situation in teacher/pupil ratio. Statistics shows 1:25 to 1:20 for primary and secondary levels on the one hand and 1:16 to 1:12 in vocational education on the other.

Educational costs and financing: In the school year of 1988/89 an amount estimated at 690 million Iraqi Dinars was allocated to educational development in the whole of Iraq; a 238 percent increase since 1976. This was estimated at 6.4 percent as of the total government expenditure. Capital expenditure made roughly 9 percent of the total budget. Out of the total current expenditure emoluments for teaching staff were estimated at 76 percent. As far as public current expenditure by level of education is concerned, a major part, i.e., 47 percent was allocated to primary education. Next came secondary education with a share of 27 percent. The percentage allocation for tertiary level was 20. Pre-primary received the least, i.e., 2.1 percent. That of secondary education showed an increase from 16 percent in 1976 to 27 percent in 1988/89. This could have been attributed to the pressure exerted upon it by primary school graduates. For the year 1991 the figures are slightly different. 2.2 percent for pre-primary, 53.3 for primary, 23.6 for secondary and 20.8 for the tertiary level. The trend seems to tilt in favour of primary and against tertiary over the years in question. That of secondary showed an increase over twelve year period and started declining since 1988/89.

The total educational expenditure for the year 1992/93 was 902 million Iraqi Dinars. Current expenditure amounted to 99.3 as percentage of the total. Data on educational financing for the forthcoming years is not available. Despite this it is not very difficult to understand that resources have been shrinking since the imposition of the sanctions. The total educational expenditure was 3.2 as percentage of the total government current expenditure in 1998 compared to 6.2 percent in 1988/89. The fact that Iraq is suffering from four digit inflation is also a point worth mentioning in this context.


  1. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1989, UNESCO, Paris, 1989
  2. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1990, UNESCO, Paris, 1990
  3. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1991, UNESCO, Paris, 1991
  4. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1991, UNESCO, Paris, 1995
  5. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1991, UNESCO, Paris, 1997
  6. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1998, UNESCO, Paris, 1998
  7. Iraqi Kurdistan Region Ministry of Education, Annual Statistics Group for the Year 1995/96 and Annual Planning for Academic Year 1996/97, General Directorate of Curriculum and Educational Planning - MOE, Northern Governorates of Iraq, 1996
  8. UNESCO Regional Office for Education in the Arab Countries, L'Education Nouvelle, UNESCO, Amman, 1987
  9. UNICEF, The State of the World's Children 1999, UNICEF, New York,1999
  10. UNESCO Iraq, Impact of Sanctions on the Educational System in the Center and Southern Governorates of Iraq, UNESCO Baghdad, 1998
  11. UNESCO/Iraq, Education Sector Review, UNESCO, Baghdad, 1997
  12. Republic of Iraq, Annual Abstract of Statistics - 1990, Ministry of Planning - Central Statistical Organization, Baghdad, 1990
  13. Republic of Iraq, Annual Abstract of Statistics - 1995 - 96, Board of Ministers Planning Commission - Central Statistical Organization, Baghdad, 1996
  14. Interview of the Minister of Education with the Chinese Newspaper XINHUA, December 1, 1998
  15. UNICEF, UNICEF Survey of Primary Schools - Northern Iraq: 1998, UNICEF, Erbil, 1998
  16. Iraqi Economists Association, Human Development Report - 1995, Baghdad, 1995.


12. Deprofessionalisation: A Review by UNOHCI

'Deprofessionalisation' in Iraq has taken many forms: (i) youth who dot not start their university education or discontinue it mid-stream* because their expanded family households require income, (ii) adults who are working in their fields of training but without basic tools a normal modern working environment would provide or (iii)-adults with a university education who make a living through non-professional or even menial work.

In order to obtain some first hand evidence of the wide-spread concern among Iraqis often overheard by outsiders that professionally trained persons had to abandon their fields of training, a survey was carried out by UNOHCI among Iraqis employed by UN and non-governmental organizations. The results of this survey are reflected in the following table:

Iraqi Employees in UN/NGO Organizations with a University Education **
i) Working in their professional or related field 432
ii) Working in general service or menial labour areas 725
  Total 1,157

The returns show that a significant number of holders of degrees in such areas as natural sciences, architecture, engineering, medicine, etc. are working as drivers, clerks, secretaries, messengers, watchmen and handymen.***

It is fully realised that the above is no more than a glimpse into one aspect of a complex labour picture. This picture can only become clearly visible through an eventual labour survey. Nevertheless what emerges from this data is indicative of the difficulties Iraqis, particularly, youth face in developing their potential and applying gained knowledge appropriately. It also raises the serious issue of lack of opportunity for Iraqis, particularly youth to prepare for nation building responsibilities and participation in an international world which is increasingly leaving Iraq behind in terms of knowledge, technology and cooperation.

* The Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Baghdad mentioned to the UN/HC that since 1990 the number of law graduates has dropped by 50% because students often have to leave the university in order to supplement family income.

** Details of the responses are with the UN/HC.

*** See copy of a letter from the CARE Country Representative in Iraq and a handwritten note from a private individual.

CARE International in Iraq
Tel: (9641) 556 9786/7

Mr Hans C. von Sponeck
UN Coordinator
The Canal Hotel

17 March 1999

Dear Mr von Sponeck

Please find CARE's input into the questionnaire. As a large part of the humanitarian work we undertake is in the field of rehabilitation of health service facilities and water treatment plants, we employ mainly technical staff who are therefore working in their professions. However, during the course of our work, we come across large numbers of people who are highly trained and working as taxi drivers or selling in shops. To highlight just one case, not long ago I was served ice cream by a qualified medical doctor!

Before the 23rd we will be providing some material especially regarding conditions affecting the handicapped for inclusion in your submission to the panel.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Hassan

CARE Country Representative - Iraq

Name   Level of Education Job (Work)
Ammar Ad. Award the B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering Work on a weaver machine
Ali H. Graduated from the College of Science (geography department) Driver of taxi
Farqad Zu.   Award the B.Sc. degree in Mech. Eng. Work as a confectioner in a small shop
Laith I. Graduated from the College of Medicine No (work)
Ahmed D. Award the B.Sc. degree in Electrical Eng. Work as a green-grocer
Luay Sh. Award the B.Sc. degree in Civil Eng. Work as a black-smith in a small factory
Khaled A. Graduated from the College of Science (biology department) Work as a clerk
Salah N. Award the B.Sc. degree in Architecture Work as a sign-writer in a small shop
Firas A. Graduated from the College of Engineering (oil department) No (work)

Note: This list was compiled by a young man who recently graduated from a local University. He presently works as a Receptionist in a small hotel. The persons listed are his friends.



13. Electricity at the Household Level: A Review by UNDP

The following is mainly based on visits made by UN Observers under the Oil-for-Food Programme. In general, information on electricity is difficult to obtain from the government.


Electricity, like elsewhere however, is a basic need in Iraq. Water supply, health services, sanitation and irrigation pumping, food manufacturing and processing and most services depend on electrical power. The country's high degree of urbanization and typical landclimate with very high temperatures in summer (up to 56 degrees centigrade) and cool winters further underpin the need for electricity.

Up to 1990 Iraq had a reliable electrical power supply system covering the entire country through a national grid. The system's total installed capacity was 9295 MW generated by 24 power plants. The maximum demand reached 7500 MW in 1990 and as there was an ever increasing demand, the Ministry of Industry initiated the construction of three new power plants with a total capacity of 4800 MW. Work on these plants ceased in 1991 and is still unfinished.


During the 1991 war power stations were specifically targetted causing a total collapse of the system. Emergency repair immediately following the war rendered an operable capacity of 24% of the installed capacity. Repairs and rehabilitation efforts by the Government during the years 1991-1995 resulted in increasing the operable capacity to about 4000 MW. The shortage of supply during the years 1990-1998 has resulted in load shedding programmes lasting several hours (10-16 hour/day) in the main cities, whereas in rural areas power supply is often not more than 3-6 hours/day.

This situation directly affects the consumer at household level. Not only has electricity become a relative scarce commodity, also the quality of electricity generated and supplied to the end users is far below the standard level, due to heavy fluctuations and an unacceptable low frequency. This directly results in damaging the consumer's electrical appliances, which falls hard at a time that income levels have dropped to historical low levels.

UN observers have noted that the manner in which the electrical power supply system is operating, is unstable, unreliable and unsafe harbouring a high probability of forced outages at any time.

Unplanned outages by themselves are damaging. Technically, any power on/off switching operation implicates an oscillation surge that has an immediate harmful impact on any electrical equipment.


The lack of electricity distribution material and spare parts resulted in, among others, the non-connection of more than 50,000 houses for several years. In order to connect these residential areas, new distribution transformers, poles, wires and protection equipment are required. In the three northern governorates, the replacement of 469 distribution transformers has ensured a more reliable supply for more than 23,000 consumers. In the 15 governorates in central/south Iraq more than 3,000 distribution transformers were installed, but the required quantities of such equipment far exceed what is being ordered through the SCR 986 programme.

Some end users are being supplied by private sector generation but this is only possible for a limited quantity and duration. Some rural areas which are completely isolated from the network due to their remoteness from the grid are mainly dependent on diesel generating sets.

Any electrical system requires safety measures to operate, and has to undergo maintenance. Proper procedures and measures are not followed and in many cases this is resulting in losses of lives of maintenance staff and customers.


14. Mines and the Civilian Population: A Review by UNOPS

(a) Northern Iraq


Mines have been used in northern Iraq from-as early as 1965 up until the present day. Conflict in the northern region has been ongoing since this time, with a high level of belligerence occurring from t975 onwards. The twenty four years of conflict by various factions, since 1975 has yielded a lethal dividend of unmarked minefields and battlefield areas. It has also resulted in complacency and a resigned mindset of hopelessness by the population toward the threat of mines and unexploded devices. It is not uncommon to enter any village in the region and find at the minimum one house that has mines and ordnance, in-various states of decay and danger, sitting on a shelf in the family room.

The conflict along with the forced depopulation of over 4,800 rural villages into collective towns, and the subsequent mining of a good majority of the villages and/or their surrounds has resulted in a known mined area of in excess 212 square kilometers. This figure grows daily as we collect more information through our Level One Survey teams. Many areas that are known to be mined are inaccessible due to the current conflict on the northern border. There is no survey information on battlefield area contamination as the extent of the problem is so wide spread. The past use of chemical weapons in the northern region further compounds the complexity of the battle field area contamination problem.

Compared with Afghanistan and Cambodia the current civilian casualty rate is not great at around 4-10 injured or killed per month through mines or unexploded ordnance. However, this figure is still, totally unacceptable and in the long term preventable. Records since 1991 indicate that 2,933 civilians have been killed and 5,394 have been injured. Currently there is no large IDP or returnee movement but if security, stability and development occur in the region, then we can expect around half a million displaced people to return to their villages. If minefields are not cleared or marked in these areas the results will be disastrous and the casualty rates will far exceed those of Afghanistan and Cambodia.


At present UNOPS has implemented a project in the Mines Activities Sector. The project is developing an indigenous mine clearance and prosthetic support capacity. The project is training national staff to manage, plan and implement manual clearance, level one and two survey, data capture and analysis, mapping, mine education, medical support to mine clearance, integrated dog clearance operations, training and prosthetic production. All objectives set for inputs have been achieved in Phases I, II and III. Phase IV is nearing completion and is on track, with the exception of the delay in importation of communication equipment, and should achieve the objectives set. In 11 months of operations the project has trained 757 personnel in mine clearance field operations and employs over 904 personnel through six different contractors in both the mine clearance and prosthetics sectors. The project has now built a capacity in the areas of clearance, survey both level one and two, training teams, doctrine, management teams, data base and mapping facility, prosthetic support facilities and staff. The project intends to further develop and indigenise the capacity in the future. The 904 staff currently man the 13 clearance teams (five of the teams are now totally nationalised), six level two survey teams, 12 level one survey teams, eight dog teams, two training teams, two electronic data processing offices, one headquarters, two sector offices, two training and base camps, four field camps, 23 minefield sites and three prosthetic centres. This in itself represents an outstanding input in human resource and material resource provision and development in the area of mines related activities.


No precise output objectives were set for Phases I, II and III, apart from fielding and equipping teams which were achieved. Phase IV has self imposed output objectives that appear to be on track at this point and should be exceeded during Phase IV. The project to date has dealt with 2,698 patients, produced and fitted 685 prosthesis for amputees. The project has cleared 496,773 square metres, level one surveyed 87,605,033 square metres, level two surveyed 583,679 square metres, quality assured 103,976 square metres and destroyed 2j884 mines and unexploded ordnance. Throughout the project the productivity outputs have grown rapidly, as an example, the outputs for land cleared trebled in the last quarter. To date the project has completed six agricultural, orchard, fuel provision and grazing type minefields of an area of 222,046 square metres. The 904 staff currently man the 13 clearance teams, six level two survey teams, 12 level one survey teams, eight dog teams, two training teams, two electronic data processing offices, one headquarters, two sector offices, two training and base camps, four field camps, 23 minefield sites and three prosthetic centres.


The presence of mines has considerably diminished the quality of life for people in the region in a number of ways. Firstly the mine and unexploded ordnance problem have disrupted and in some cases destroyed amenities and services that were common place prior to the conflict. Power supply is one case in point, where power line repair is limited by access due to the surrounding minefields. Access to services, communications, social services and medical services have been hampered by the presence of mines in some areas of the region.

Family security has been severely disrupted in many villagers where the male breadwinners have been killed or incapacitated due to mines or unexploded devices. The ability of villagers to derive a rural living by using ground for cultivation and grazing of stock has been severely restricted and in the early days has cost many lives in discovering where one can or can not plant a crop or graze a herd of sheep. The impact is severe in that the income can be reduced or in some circumstances cease. This has placed an additional financial burden on not only the family but also the medical support system within the region. The cost to the family is immeasurable and the cost to the community cannot be estimated at this early stage of our project. Raw figures at this point indicate that for a single amputee to be rehabilitated with prosthesis is around US$700 to $1,000 for material and fitting costs alone. This does not include facility or overhead costs or maintenance costs. Children amputees are far more expensive as the prosthesis has to be changed with the growth of the child.

Development activities in the region have been slowed in the rural areas due to the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance. Again power supply development is a prime example of this. The development of services and facilities of villages for the return of IDP will in the future be hampered by the rate of clearance and resources available to react to this need. Currently there is a lack of enthusiasm to return to some home villages from the collective towns because of the lack of security the presence of mines and the lack of services in the home village. If the situation were to change in the future the region will need a capacity capable to deal with the mine and unexploded devices problem created by the population migration.


There are a number of problems that have been faced both technically and generally. The technical problems that have been faced are such things as the 25 different types of mines; various minimum metal mines have been used in the region; lack of minefield records; inability to obtain reliable maps suitable for the data base; the high metal content in the ground and the superimposing of battlefields over minefields; thus increasing the technical complexity of the task at hand. These problems have been overcome through innovative and proactive approaches by the field staff though the introduction of dogs, new types of mine detectors and development of sound drills and procedures which have resulted in no demining accidents in 11 months. General problems have taken the form of delays in the importation of equipment, a degree of indifference by authorities toward the mine and unexploded ordnance problem, a lack of a central mines action body at local and national government level and the resultant reluctance to wholeheartedly get behind the project. Again this is being resolved by a more proactive approach by the field staff and support staff in the areas of liaison with the authorities and public relations. The lack of sound planning data has also created difficulties for sound planning and tasking. This is being rectified by the implementation of a region wide general survey of minefields and mine victims. Once collected the data is inputted into the database for use by both the clearance operations and the prosthetics sector.


The human suffering will continue in this region for some time. It is estimated that it will take some 33 years to clear all of the currently known 2,386 minefields given the current resources, continued compliance with the UN International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance Operations and that the mine and unexploded ordnance problem does not grow. This period is by far too long and must be shortened. The program has embarked on a long-term plan to nationalise the capacity in all areas but requires time and funds to further develop a fully integrated system that has nationalised mechanical and dog clearance. To shorten the time of completion in this region, more resources to increase the speed and efficiency of the project are required. Injection of funds at this point will increase and develop the national dog capacity and develop a national mechanical capacity, all of which will contribute to increased speed of clearance and efficiency of clearance. An asset, in the form of a process, equipment and trained personnel, for the humanitarian development of Iraq has been put in place. What is required now, is further expansion and nurturing of this asset to improve its' capability by adding other types of resources to enhance its speed and efficiency.

(b) Central and Southern Iraq


Although information on the southern Iraq region with respect to mine and unexploded ordnance is not readily available, anecdotal information indicates a far more serious current threat to the Iraqi people than is evident in the north. One report indicates that as much as one mine -casualty per day is occurring, which would place this problem in the same category as the emergency demining that is continuing in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The threat has been that serious that the UNIKOM force has offered to provide resources in an attempt to reduce the human suffering that is ongoing in this region. Due to perceived security problems this concept has been rejected by the GOI.


If there is a need to maintain the integrity of national security provided by the minefields then there is a need to take some measures to ensure the security of the right to life for the inhabitants of the region. Therefore there is a need for a compromise solution to provide for the challenges to the nations and individuals security. To ensure national security then the bulk of the minefields need to stay in place. To provide individual security to the region inhabitants it is necessary to reduce the risk of entering the mined areas. In other words a program of high level of threat prevention and threat avoidance with a very limited level of threat elimination.


Without an adequate assessment of the problem it is difficult to develop a work plan that will fulfill the regions needs. Therefore there is a requirement to conduct an initial assessment mission. From this mission the strategies required to provide adequate national and individual security can be developed, which in turn provides the necessary inputs to develop a work plan. At this point it is only possible to provide some possible intervention options that could be undertaken. To prevent wastage of resources it is strongly recommended that UNOPS and UNICEF undertake an assessment mission to determine the needs and strategies.


Once conducted the assessment mission will provide the required information to allow detailed planning. Current information indicates that the interventions most urgently needed are mine awareness education, minefield marking and limited emergency unexploded ordnance and mine clearance of high risk areas.

Threat Avoidance: The immediate need is to conduct an awareness/avoidance education program in as many approaches simultaneously as possible. The development of avoidance/awareness messages will have to be the first step. It is important to ensure these messages are correct before the program commences. Once the messages are developed then all approaches should be attempted, including mass media, community based, institutional and direct. This will require an agency such as UNOHCI, UNICEF or UNOPS to take the lead to coordinate the program ensuring all levels are covered. Various agencies could be involved such as UNICEF - education institution approach, WFP - community based approach using the feeding program, UNHCR - direct approach in IDP camps.

Threat Prevention: Threat prevention can best be achieved through the permanent marking and fencing of minefields and sign posting/warning of dangerous areas. Unarmed GOI, Department of Defense, Corps of Engineers could best undertake this task. This would provide the national security necessary by containing the contamination and providing the GOI with detailed maps of their minefields. If this cannot be achieved due to UN restrictions then UNOPS could train and field national staff with international supervisors through a contractor, to under take the permanent fencing and marking project. The project will be costly in resources, as it will require a considerable amount of fencing material, signs and additional resources, such as Mine Detection Dog Teams.

Threat Elimination: There maybe a requirement to eliminate some of the contamination to allow safe passage in areas required by the local population for survival, such as water sources. This type of tasking cannot be undertaken by the military arm of the GOI without specific and detailed training in mine and UXO clearance to humanitarian standards. It would be far more suitable to have some of the personnel trained for permanent marking trained in clearance as well. There maybe a need {or a fully trained EOD team, this would require confirmation through the assessment.


The assessment is the first step that must be carried out. After this all other aspects will follow. Given the correct inputs and the requirement for a rapid implementation will result in a drastic reduction in mine victims in the region. The objective for this project must be to achieve a level of zero mine victims per day.


15. Internally Displaced Persons: A Review by UNOHCI (North)

(a) Northern Iraq


The problem of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) continues to be an endemic feature of life in three northern governorates of Iraq. The overall number in need of assistance exceeds half a million persons, most of whom live in deplorable conditions with the minimum of basic sanitary services, heating and shelter. As the question of IDPs is of such critical political, social and economic nature, virtually all UN Agencies are involved in working with IDPs through the various programmes in the nine different sectors of SCR 986. IDPs therefore benefit from assistance in all sectors. Out of the nine sectors, however, the Settlement and Rehabilitation Sector focuses specifically on IDPs. The Settlement and Rehabilitation Sector aims at those who require immediate support to enable their permanent resettlement in their appropriatie places. And assisting population in cities and towns to ensure their access to infrastructure services This includes the return and resettlement of refugees and IDPs.


Within the parameters of the SCR 986 framework, there are four categories of IDPs:

  1. IDPs in collective.towns, the old caseload, comprising of persons forcibly moved from their villages during the 1970s and 1980s to approximately 76 collective towns throughout the three governorates.
  2. Those displaced from the central and southern governorates, particularly from Kirkuk during the 1991 uprising, and forced to be relocated in the north.
  3. Those displaced by PKK activities
  4. Those displaced by internal conflicts among political factions in the north


The number of persons living in collective towns is currently estimated at 700,000. Some current estimates indicate that approximately 250,000 of the persons living in collective towns would be willing to return to the place of origin if adequate conditions were to be provided. A workshop on IDPs will be held in April to, among others, obtain a more accurate estimate of the number of persons to be considered IDPs and living in collective towns.


The continuous flow of persons displaced from the centre/south provides a challenge for the local authorities and the UN Agencies with regard to the assistance that needs to be rendered. The number of persons is estimated at 150,000. The displaced in this category are considered a priority for the humanitarian programme. The reason being that among those groups are those who are worst off and without permanent shelters.


The number of internally displaced in this category is currently estimated at 25,000. Assistance to this category is also considered as a priority for the same reasons as indicated under two.


The number of persons in this category is currently estimated at 125,000. It is too early at this stage to judge whether a decrease in the number of persons in this category will occur as a result of the September 1998 Washington Peace Agreement. It is mainly up to the local authorities to establish the required trust for those displaced to return to their place of origin. The humanitarian programme can only fully focus on facilitating the return of the displaced in this category after the local authorities resume responsibility to resolve this problem.

In general the break down of activities, specifically performed by UNCHS (Habitat), in the Settlement and Rehabilitation Sector remains according to the Distribution Plans and the MOU as follows:

There are a number of issues that need to be addressed in depth, especially the questions of how many persons are considered as IDPs and who should be the priorities. The former requires an updated working definition of "IDP" specifically for the situation in northern Iraq, the latter requires close collaboration with the local authorities and NGOs.

To this effect, a workshop is planned for April 1999 to address such issues.

(b) Central/Southern Iraq


In spite of the sustained resettlement efforts by the UN, NG6s and other bilateral donor agencies during 1991-1997, there still remain sizeable numbers of internally displaced persons in Iraq. IDPs in the southern and central governorates of Iraq are almost completely left out of the programme financed by the international community. Displaced persons in the centre/ south originate from the Marsh areas, the war affected villagers from the Iraq/Iran border areas and Kurdish families from northern Iraq. Because of the large size of the affected persons, the majority of whom are children and mothers, and the limited availability of resources for targeted assistance, the situation of displaced persons remains one of the pressing humanitarian needs in the centre/south.


The IDPs displaced from Al-Fao, Siba and the Shatt Al-Arab during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war are impoverished villagers who are unable to return to their villages of origin. Their villages, orchards and palm groves have been destroyed. Similarly, the Government decided to drain part of the marshes of southern Iraq extending into Iran and seeded land mines to safeguard its borders and control infiltration. Agricultural projects were launched by the Government to help resettle these displaced families, but due to shortage of funds, projects had to be abandoned, and most of these indigenous families have been placed in collective towns.

Many of the displaced families moved to the urban centers of Amarah, Basrah, Nassiriyah and other locations in search of job opportunities. They squatted in abandoned public buildings where rooms lack doors and windows, and in some cases, the ceilings cannot protect them from rains. Humanitarian organizations which visit these locations note that the major concern regarding these IDPs is the deteriorating state of urban neighborhoods. Stagnant sewage ponds and dirty swamps surrounding many of the abandoned buildings contribute to both increase in malaria and in water-borne diseases. Uncollected garbage adds to health hazards.


A joint assessment team comprising UNOHCI, MECC, IRCS and representatives of donor churches from USA and Iceland, visited southern Iraq in September 1998, to take stock of the number of affected families. The team reported the number of displaced families as follows:

Recent visits carried out by the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and some international NGOs, confirmed that, to this date, the vast majority of IDPs remain without decent shelter. Several families share rooms, store houses, and meeting/dining halls, partitioned by blankets and pieces of cloth. In addition, most of them have no gainful economic activities. IDP children cannot go to school because they are either expected to earn some income for their families or have no decent clothes and shoes to go to school.

Visiting humanitarian organizations identified the following as priority needs of displaced families:


UNOHCI /OIP funded a number of small projects including shelter and sanitation rehabilitation in Basrah, Amarah and Nassiriya through BR Trust Funds. This assistance brought forward renewed hope as well as expectations among displaced families in those locations. Rehabilitation of shelter and sanitation facilities is, therefore, the most urgent need at the present time for at least some of the estimated 84,000 IDPs in the three locations.

Rehabilitation of shelter and sanitation facilities for IDPs in the centre/south would have to be considered as a matter of priority.




UNHCR office in Iraq was first established in 1988. The Government of Iraq (GOI) is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention related to the status of refugees and its protocol of 1967. However, the GOI is party to some international instruments of relevance to refugees namely, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Some of the current refugees in Iraq, however, have been present in country prior to UNHCR's formal presence in Iraq and were provided legal protection and assistance by the Iraqi government.


Turkish Kurd Refugees in Makhmour Camp and the Settlements

A group of approximately 8,500 Turkish refugees moved from Northern Iraq to Makhmour in May 1998. The government of Iraq made contributions by constructing an access road to the camp, building a police station and offices, both for UNHCR and the GOI camp management, constructing a clinic, providing electricity up to the office buildings and by laying down water distribution system in the camp.

UNHCR, on its part to ensure full protection of refugees, and in order not to expose them to unnecessary hardship and risks, contributed to improve basic shelter, health, sanitation, education and provide some community based facilities in the camp. Based on the fact that the GOI provided full material assistance to refugees in Iraq prior to 1991, one can assume that the need for complimentary material assistance by UNHCR under the present conditions would be necessary. Moreover, there are 2800 Turkish Kurd refugees living in settlements in the Governorate of Dohuk in Northern Iraq assisted by the UNHCR Field Office in Dohuk in collaboration with Local Authorities. UNHCR continued to facilitate volunatary repatriation of those willing to do so and 615 were assisted to repatirate during 1998.

Iranian Kurd Refugees in Al-Tash Camp

Most of the Iranian Kurd refugees in Altash camp fled Iran in the aftermath of 1979 revolution in Iran. They received full legal protection and material assistance from the government of Iraq. UNHCR established its presence in Al-Tash refugee camp in 1991. A regular assistance programme was established to complement the assistance provided by the government in areas which fell short of the basic humanitarian needs due to the financial limitations faced by the GOI after 1991.

Iranian (Ahwazi) Refugees in Southern Iraq

The Iranian (Ahwazi) refugees in settlements in three different governorates in southern Iraq, have full protection of the GOI, and were allocated small farms and other facilities by the host government upon their arrival in Iraq some 18 years ago. Due to a reasonable level of self sufficiency attained by them during the period prior to 1991, and in view of the full legal protection provided by the host government, not much of the UNHCR assistance or protection activities in Iraq were targeted towards this group. The sharp decline in their living condition in the past few years, in addition to the political developments in the region, contributed to their increased desire to return.

UNHCR Iraq will continue its efforts to undertake a more regular and systematic monitoring of the conditions of these refugees within available human and financial resources.

Palestinian Refugees

Palestinian refugees have lived in Iraq for many years. They were given a legal residential status in Iraq, and receive most facilities available to Iraqi nationals. UNHCR was not involved in direct legal or material assistance activities to Palestinian refugees. Very limited cash assistance, based on a case by case assessment is, however, provided by UNHCR to the most deserving vulnerable families since 1991.

Medicines are occasionally provided to the Health clinic of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) by allocating a small quantity of the medicines procured for the health clinics in refugee camps. This assistance is dependent on the assessment of the needs, if and when such assistance is required.

Iranian Kurd Returnees in Northern Iraq

Since 1992, UNHCR Iraq embarked on a returnee programme in northern Iraq by providing transport assistance from the border to the place of origin, and a returnee package consisting of shelter material, livestock and some hand tools. A total of 63,502 Iraqi Kurds returnees were assisted by UNHCR during the past six years.


The right of asylum of the refugees present in country is respected by the host government. All refugees in Iraq receive food ration under the UNSCR 986 "Oil for Food. programme. Basic services, including health, shelter, sanitation and education are provided by the GOI limited and within/existing resources. U,~NHCR compliments such services, mostly in refugee camps, and some limited assistance is provided to the refugees living in cities.

Since the withdrawal of the central authority from the three northern governorates of Iraq, and its autonomous administration by the two local Kurdish Parties, characteristics of UNHCR operations and nature of assistance provided to the refugees in northern Iraq differ from the rest of the country.

Almost all assistance activities by UNHCR to refugees living in Iraq, have taken place after 1990. In this regard, there is no reliable data to be used for comparison of social conditions of refugees before and after 1991. This makes our task heavily dependent on general indicators of the social and economic environment in Ira; and how it impacts on the refugees, who live in such environment. Papers done by other Specialised Agencies in this respect, on social deprivation, poverty, destitution and education, can serve as good indicators, though not typical, to understand the social problems surrounding the refugee picture after 1991 in the context of the country of asylum. It should be highlighted that refugees have a significant disadvantage compared to local population, in the sense they lack extended family network support that nationals enjoy to socially face difficult situation whenever possible.

In Northern Iraq, the prevailing law and order conditions and internal conflicts, administration of the area by the local authorities and its proximity to the countries of origin of the refugees, require UNHCR to play a stronger protection role. Physical as well as legal protection provided by the local authorities in northern Iraq to the refugees has not been very effective, more due to their limitations rather than their political will. Whereas, the GOI has played a stronger role in providing legal and physical protection to refugees. However, the prevailing humanitarian situation requires UNHCR to play a more active role in providing material assistance to refugees in the Centre and South.

The refugees in Iraq, have equally shared with the Iraqi people their difficulties emanating from the deterioration of physical and social infrastructure of the country after 1991. A number of indicators of this situation can be clearly seen amongst the refugees, either in camps, in camp like situations or in urban areas. These indicators, affecting the humanitarian situation of refugees, could be mentioned as follows: