Overall UNHCR activities in 2020 remained focused on the provision of protection services and assistance for all populations of concern, including registration, documentation, gender-based violence response and case management, child protection, support to vulnerable families through cash assistance, and supporting durable solutions efforts, notably through the area based programming initiative.
For IDPs, UNHCR continued to engage in protection monitoring, legal assistance, civil documentation through the Ministry of Interior (MOI), and the provision of assistance and services through the cluster system, as the lead/co-lead agency for the Protection, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), and Shelter and Non-Food-Items (NFI) clusters.
Community service centres (CSCs) continued to play a significant role in enhancing the access of people of concern to protection services in compliance with COVID-19 safety measures. In 2020, UNHCR maintained 36 CSCs in Iraq and reached over 110,000 refugees through its various awareness-raising campaigns and community engagement activities.
UNHCR provided legal assistance to IDPs and returnees to obtain civil documentation, reaching 46,431 individuals, of whom 14,305 successfully secured civil documentation in 2020. In an assessment of UNHCR's legal assistance services, 52% of camp-based and 64% of urban-based people of concern reported an improvement in freedom of movement as a result.
UNHCR leads the Protection, Shelter and Basic Needs sectors under the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) and co-leads the Health and WASH sectors. In 2020, UNHCR focused on ensuring that refugees from Syria had access to humanitarian assistance and to the full exercise of their fundamental rights. Interventions ranged from legal assistance, addressing restrictions on freedom of movement, access to documentation, safety and basic services, mental health and psychosocial support, identifying and referring vulnerable persons to specialized services, capacity building for the Government, NGOs, and people of concern, support for survivors of gender-based violence, and education and health.
UNHCR enhanced its targeting of protection and assistance interventions to respond to the urgent needs of vulnerable families. Overall, UNHCR's cash assistance — including winter cash assistance, unrestricted cash assistance, and COVID-19 cash — reached 561,243 people in Iraq, comprising 167,884 refugees and 393,359 IDPs and returnees. Overall, 60% of registered refugees in Iraq received one or more forms of cash assistance from UNHCR in 2020.
As part of its peaceful co-existence and socioeconomic inclusion efforts, UNHCR carried out area-based projects, including the renovation and rehabilitation of health and community centres and construction of water supply systems. UNHCR continued to support refugee camp-based primary health care centres (PHCCs) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, ensuring free access to health services. Importantly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people of concern had access to services provided by the Ministry of Health, including PCR tests and admission to COVID-19 hospitals. To support the national health system, UNHCR procured sets of intensive care unit (ICU) equipment needed to treat critical COVID-19 cases for COVID-19 hospitals in seven governorates, and provided personal protective equipment to camp PHCCs.
UNHCR actively participated in the Iraq Durable Solutions Task Force and undertook field visits to IDP areas of origin while maintaining its strategic engagement at the national and field levels to ensure evidence-based reintegration and integration needs are reflected in donor strategies and priorities.
Iraq is among nine UNHCR country operations piloting the UNHCR-UNICEF Blueprint for a Joint Action Plan for refugees. As a foundation for the signing of the Blueprint in 2012, UNHCR and UNICEF held coordination meetings in Baghdad and at the field level to identify best practices, challenges, and potential collabouration areas in three key areas: child protection, WASH, and primary and secondary education.