Iraq Country Report
Persistent anti-government protests in central and southern Iraq entail blockades of road, including those leading to oil fields, and intermittent blockades of Umm Qasr port, causing business disruption and delays to the movement of cargo. Broad economic reforms to facilitate foreign direct investment were initiated in the 2006 Investment Law; however, poor planning and governance have impeded the law's implementation. Post-Islamic State rebuilding of infrastructure has made little headway and is unlikely in 2020 as a result of falling oil prices and demand for oil with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Initiatives put forward by Iraq’s Integrity Commission have not translated into action by the government to reduce corruption.
Shia militias aligned to Iran in the Popular Mobilisation Units intend to expel US forces from Iraq; increased rocket attacks are likely to focus on military bases. There is an increased risk of attacks and kidnap targeting Western individuals. The Islamic State is consolidating its presence in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Salaheddine provinces using hideouts in connecting mountain ranges. Improvised explosive device attacks in these areas target security forces vehicles. The US-led coalition suspended the anti-Islamic State campaign 5–15 January. The Islamic State may aim to exploit the confrontation between the US and Iran, with more complex attacks against security forces and energy assets in central and northern Iraq.
The government is both unable and unwilling to attempt to rein in heavily armed and well-funded Iran-aligned militias in the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs); any attempt to do so would entail a risk of civil war. Following the US drone strike that killed IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, a proxy conflict between the US and Iran on Iraqi soil is likely to intensify. The PMUs will likely conduct near-daily rocket and explosive attacks targeting US assets at Iraq military bases, and there is a risk of rogue attacks against Western civilian assets and personnel. Conventional interstate war is highly unlikely.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission. Certificate of yellow fever vaccination is valid for 10 years.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine (sometimes marketed as Nivaquine).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Several provinces have, in the past, been severely impacted by short periods of torrential rainfall that have led to landslides and flash floods in Baghdad and southern parts of the country. As infrastructure is ill-prepared for such events, material damages are often significant, including in the capital. Flooding also increases the risk of the spread of cholera.
Iraqi Airways, Iraq's national carrier, has been added to the list of airlines banned from flying in European Union (EU) airspace, commonly referred to as the EU blacklist. The ban, implemented due to subpar security and safety standards, went into effect in December 2015.
Iraqi authorities have repeatedly voiced concerns about the condition of the Mosul Dam, the country's largest hydroelectric facility, which has been critically damaged by the conflict in the north of the country. Despite extensive maintenance that began in February 2016, risks related to a breach of the dam do still exist, though it is assessed that ongoing work to repair the infrastructure will negate the threat of a major breach.
Iraq's climate is principally arid. Summers last from May until September, during which time it is very hot and dry with temperatures reaching as high as 50°C. Winters last from December to February and are mild, sometimes rainy, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 20°C. Conditions tend to be slightly hotter and more humid in the south of the country.
There are no emergency services in Iraq.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz