Since the start of August, NGOs have witnessed a marked escalation to the armed conflict in Iraq, particularly within the northern governorate of Ninewa. This has triggered a new wave of displacement involving more than 250,000 civilians. The majority of the displaced people headed towards the Dohuk and Erbil governorates, whilst others made their way to safe areas in Sulaymaniyah. The NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) feels the need to express its high level of concern regarding the humanitarian situation and to highlight the need for rapid and decisive actions in order to enable NGOs to be able to sustain an efficient response.
Since the turn of the year, the NGO community has been working at maximum capacity to meet the emergency needs of vulnerable populations who were affected by the conflict. However the expansive nature of the recent developments inside Northern Iraq has put considerable strain upon internal resources. International and national NGOs have until now been responding to the needs of displaced populations in Iraq primarily through their own internal funds but the situation has reached a critical point. The speed and effectiveness of emergency activities will soon begin to be compromised should an urgent remedy not be made available to NGOs, which will enable them to continue to fulfil their humanitarian obligation to those desperately in need of support.
NCCI welcomes efforts that have been made by UN agencies responding to the situation by engaging partners, but this has not been to the degree anticipated nor warranted given the scale of the crisis. It is incredibly important in this challenging period that the collective humanitarian community strives for and promotes shared interests in delivering much needed aid to people in Iraq. Fast, flexible and effective mechanisms are vitally important in making donor funds available that will leverage local and international capacity. However recently there has been a collective concern amongst NGOs regarding the lack of transparency of the proposed plan and timeline for disbursement of the funds received from the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). There has also been a perceived lack of clarity regarding the procedures that must be followed by those wishing to assess the funding criteria and requirements. The KSA donation is blocking key avenues for funding that could be received by NGOs because important donors are awaiting the allocation of the KSA money before assessing any gaps. This is despite the fact that the UN has already allocated the KSA money by sector.
NCCI would like to put forward the following recommendations based upon our collective concerns that have been expressed:
· Funds which are available through the KSA donation should be disbursed as soon as possible, with a clear timeline made available for their release.
· Imminent implementation of fast-track processes should take place through the L3 Emergency Declaration that was made.
· Contract signature processes must be quickly streamlined to ensure the rapid disbursement of funds to implementing partners.
· Additional information must urgently be provided to NGOs about the requirements, criteria and procedures for applying to access the KSA funds.
· Further consideration should be given to the benefits of the ERF system to facilitate smaller amounts rapidly, given the dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of the conflict.
· UN-NGO contracts/agreements, budgets and narratives must have additional flexibility to allow NGOs to adapt their interventions according to the fluidity of the context and ground realities. Greater space for flexibility in program design is required within agreements to enable partners to implement their programs in a way that adequately responds to population movements.
Signatories: NCCI Members