UN migration agency in Iraq aids migrant workers hit by COVID-19 crisis


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it delivered the first round of cash assistance to vulnerable migrant workers — Bangladeshi and Filipino nationals — in Iraq who have lost their incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assistance was handed out on June 04 based on the minimum expenditure basket where each individual received US$182 to enable them to meet essential needs such as food, rent, and utilities.

The recipients  were referred to IOM Iraq by their respective embassies.

IOM Iraq commenced the screening process for over 100 individuals in late April using a vulnerability assessment tool, and expects to receive further referrals.

In the coming days a second phase of cash assistance will commence; the money will be distributed via virtual Switch cards, a Mastercard service, that can be used to make withdrawals at banks and other cash agents.

The organization said there will be further distributions in the coming weeks on a rolling basis.

IOM Iraq developed the vulnerability assessment tool to determine eligibility, based on indicators of food and rent insecurity. The assessment also captures specific health vulnerabilities among migrants.

“Migrants are among those who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

“Many of them live month-to-month, sending earnings home to their families. The loss of income has left them unable to afford food and at risk of eviction.”

“Migrants face the same health threats from COVID-19 as host populations, but are often more vulnerable due to crowded living conditions and barriers to accessing health services. Measures must be taken to protect their health and wellbeing, regardless of status,” he added.

This initial round of emergency financial assistance for migrant workers took place in Erbil and was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada also supports humanitarian assistance for Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and host communities in Iraq, through the provision of relief items, as well as shelter, protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. (Source: IOM)