The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Iraq Information Centre marks five years linking people with assistance
Since launching in July 2015, the centre has connected over 3 million people in Iraq with vital information and assistance.
Operated by UNOPS on behalf of the Iraq Humanitarian Country Team, the success of the Iraq Information Centre is the result of an effective partnership between UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, enabling two-way communication between vulnerable communities and the humanitarian response.
The largest UN inter-agency project of its kind, the centre initially provided information to internally displaced persons, through a free and confidential hotline. Over the past five years, it has gradually expanded its support to others also seeking critical information and assistance – including returnees, asylum seekers, refugees and people from host communities.
“The Iraq Information Centre is a ‘one-stop-shop’ to ensure the effective delivery of services to the affected communities. The success stories coming out of the centre reinforce every day what an important resource it is,” said Richard Dictus, Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the UN Secretary-General, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i.
In 2019, the centre handled more than 121,000 calls, of which 24 per cent were from female callers. Operators received calls covering a range of issues – including from parents urgently seeking food or cash assistance to take care of their families, as well as survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), harassment or mistreatment of authority.
By calling the centre, people in need have been able to access psychosocial counselling for instances of GBV, ensure that sick children can reach the hospital even during COVID-19 movement restrictions and receive the cash assistance they are entitled to.
Georgios Petropoulos, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Deputy Head of Office and Coordinator of the Iraq Coordination and Common Services Cluster, added: “Consistent communication with communities is vital to ensuring that aid is efficiently and effectively provided to those who need it most.”
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the centre has also provided coordinated feedback from callers on the response efforts, via a COVID-19 dashboard. This has helped give voice to thousands of people impacted by the pandemic, and provided humanitarian actors with a clearer understanding of the challenges they face.
In collaboration with various humanitarian clusters, the centre has supported text message (SMS) campaigns to deliver key information on COVID-19 prevention measures across Iraq. It is also jointly conducting an opinion survey with local partners, to identify tangible steps that humanitarian responders can take to improve the COVID-19 response. Phone interviews have been conducted since April 2020 in the governorates of Anbar, Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Sulaymaniyah.
“For five years, the Iraq Information Centre has acted as a platform for people to access lifesaving humanitarian assistance and it will continue to be a critical lifeline for Iraqis who have been affected by conflict, refugees and other vulnerable communities in Iraq,” said Dana Mansuri, Mission Director for the US Agency for International Development Iraq.
“Our goal is to empower communities in Iraq through easy and free access to information. The centre, which is one of the flagship projects of the Humanitarian Country Team in accountability, has connected over 3 million people in Iraq with the humanitarian agencies within the past five years,” said Muhammad Usman Akram, Director for UNOPS Operational Hub in Amman.