The situation in Iraq remains volatile due to long years of ongoing instability. Since 1990, both accessibility and the quality of essential services have deteriorated significantly in a country where one quarter of the population lives below the poverty line of US$2 per day. 

According to the Iraq Knowledge Network (IKN) survey conducted in 2011, food deprivation in Iraq decreased from 7 percent in 2007 to 6 percent in 2011. Vulnerability to food deprivation also decreased from 20 percent to 14 percent during the same period. Food deprivation in Iraq is transforming from a rural to an urban phenomenon due to improved government investment in agriculture and improvement in rural incomes due to rising food prices. 

However, substantial regional differences persist. Districts suffering from the highest levels of food deprivation are concentrated in the south and north-west of the country. Limited income and lack of access to enough food remains the main cause of food insecurity in Iraq. Although Iraqis’ dependency on the Public Distribution System (PDS) has decreased from 67 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in 2011, it remains the main source of food for the poorest Iraqis.

More than 1.7 million Iraqis – of which 49 percent are women and 51 percent men – have been internally displaced since February 2006. Recent studies show that internally displaced people’s (IDPs) access to food has drastically decreased as a result of irregular PDS distributions. In some governorates, up to 92 percent of IDPs claim food to be their most pressing need.  

The rate of unemployment stands at 8 percent down from 11.7 percent in 2007. The highest unemployment rates remain among the youth and are estimated at 18 percent

In 2012, the influx of Syrian refugees into northern Iraq due to the ongoing conflict was an added burden. The Kurdistan Regional Government, UN agencies and NGOs are providing assistance to Syrian refugees. In July 2012, WFP started providing food assistance to Syrian refugees in the north of the country with priority given to camp refugees in Domiz and Al-Qaim.