IOM Iraq Provides Cash Assistance to Migrant Workers Affected by COVID-19

Erbil — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten workforces globally, migrant workers are at particular risk of losing their livelihoods. Like in other countries, migrant workers in Iraq have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, with widespread layoffs leaving many in a precarious financial situation, unable to meet their basic needs. 

On 4 June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) delivered the first round of cash assistance to vulnerable migrants in Iraq who have lost their incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the minimum expenditure basket, each individual received USD 182 to enable them to meet essential needs such as food, rent, and utilities. 

The recipients — Bangladeshi and Filipino nationals — 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. 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.

For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: