Global organization Mercy Corps warns that extremist activity is increasing in Iraq, which is threatening to create no-go areas, and creating the risk that these areas could become “aid deserts.” The rise in insurgency threatens humanitarian operations in parts of Iraq as access and safety are increasingly precarious.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, there have been almost 2000 security incidents involving extremist groups since January 1, 2018; and despite ISIS having been pushed out of Mosul, ISIS elements have regrouped in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahaddin, and parts of Anbar.
“What we are reading in the media and what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq simply doesn’t add up,” says Tanya Evans, Iraq Country Director for Mercy Corps. “If anything, extremist groups are growing in confidence. As the reconstruction efforts continue to stall, groups like ISIS are filling the cracks. In some of the worst-affected areas, we face daily challenges in reaching vulnerable populations. If aid workers can’t reach communities, we face the very real danger of creating aid deserts in areas where the humanitarian needs are overwhelming.”
Mercy Corps has operated continuously in Iraq since 2003, providing assistance to 5 million Iraqis affected by war, violence and displacement in all 18 governorates. Currently the organization is addressing the needs of people affected by conflict, providing lifesaving supplies and working with communities to recover and rebuild.