Northern Iraq (November 1996)
by Humanitarian Practice Network November 1996

There has been heavy fighting since the middle of August between the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Iraqi Protectorates of Arbil and Suleimaniyah.

The take-over of the Suleimaniyah governorate during the week of 7 September has brought the entire autonomous region in the north of Iraq under KDP control. The insecurity and population movements have hampered efforts to implement the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and Government of Iraq to provide US$ 1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Iraqi people in the North and South.

However, humanitarian agency access has been able to continue throughout the rest of the country as usual, with a temporary block in Suleimaniyah from 10 September for security reasons. UN bodies (UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP) are currently assessing needs as a result of the considerable population displacement caused by the violence.

The events resulted in delays in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 986 allowing for the sale of limited amounts (US$ 1 billion every three months) of Iraqi oil to pay for the distribution of essential food and medical supplies and this has caused very serious humanitarian conditions to persist.

Emergency WFP food aid stocks were not expected to cover the needs of 1.485 million (WFP) targeted beneficiaries in the centre and the south beyond October 1996. In the north, 666,000 beneficiaries are expected to be covered until December. Net WFP emergency requirements are estimated at 6,560 mt for the north and 47,350 for the south and centre between October and December.