Iraq, with a long history of displacement, has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years. Of the more than 5.8 million Iraqis who fled their homes since 2014, 2 million remain displaced.
Over 4 million Iraqis have returned to their area of origin. Humanitarian organisations believe that many of these returns have been premature, unsafe or involuntary. Many Iraqis have returned to areas that lack basic infrastructure, utility services and livelihood opportunities, or where explosive devices have not been cleared. Other challenges include lack of security, community rejection, housing, property and civil documentation issues and lack of educational opportunities.
The UN estimates that more than 6 million Iraqis will need assistance, and 3.3 million children attend schools irregularly or not at all. Humanitarian agencies are asking for 569 million USD to deliver basic assistance to Iraqis (HRP 2018). With military operations against IS group having ended, the Iraqi government faces new challenges to ensure an inclusive reconstruction and reconciliation that will sustain peace.
People we helped in Iraq in 2017
We assist internally displaced Iraqis, Syrian refugees, and host communities in Ninewa, Dohuk, Erbil, Kirkuk, Basra and Anbar. We focus on assisting the newly displaced, those in lengthy displacement in camps and those in hard-to-reach places.
In 2018, we scaled-up our programmes across Iraq to respond to the large-scale displacements and returns, especially in Anbar governorate, around Kirkuk and in Ninewa, using our water and sanitation, education, camp management, legal assistance, livelihoods, camp management, and cash activities.
We provide camp management support in several camps in Anbar and Ninewa governorates. This includes operational backstopping to locally appointed camp managers, to ensure that camps in Iraq meet basic humanitarian standards. Our teams:
- support partners, including local authorities, with camp site setup, structure and oversight
- oversee the maintenance of communal facilities and monitor for service gaps in the camp
- collect data and manage information
- focus on upholding governance and community participation
- monitor returns and advocate for dignified, safe and long-term solutions for the displaced
We are piloting an innovative approach to address the needs of Urban Displaced Out of Camps (UDOC). The project capitalizes on NRC’s experience in camp management and uses Community Centres to improve access to services in Mosul, and Ramadi by establishing mechanisms to enhance:
- communication with communities: Sharing information with and receiving feedback from displaced and vulnerable host communities
- community engagement: Participation of affected communities alongside local stakeholders in the humanitarian and development response
- support to coordination: Efficient, effective, and inclusive coordination of services at local level, involving a range of stakeholders including authorities, civil society, NGOs, and private sector.
We ensure that children and youth have access to quality education. This is an urgent need in Iraq, critical for people to rebuild their lives. Our education teams:
- create additional learning spaces
- provide catch-up classes, recreational activities and safe spaces to conflict-affected children and youth
- provide teacher trainings
- establish school support centres, where we educate in areas needing emergency assistance as well as in places where long-term displacement is becoming a reality
- support the integration of Syrian refugee children into formal state schools in Northern Iraq
- provide psychosocial support and stress management to children and teachers
- advocate for unimpeded access to education for the millions of out-of-school children in Iraq
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
Our ICLA experts disseminate information about civil documentation, registration, access to available services and housing, land and property rights along with providing individual counselling and assistance. Our programmes:
- undertake group information sessions and mobile counselling with displaced Iraqis, and those returning home
- produce public information materials and guidance on obtaining civil documentation in Iraq
- participate in radio shows and produce public information materials
- assist people in accessing government social assistance, rather than becoming dependent on humanitarian aid
- build the capacity of humanitarian partners, local authorities and displaced community leaders in resolving local housing, land and property disputes
- coordinate with relevant government authorities to assist refugees, internally displaced Iraqis and vulnerable local population to obtain lost civil and legal documents, processing compensation claims and accessing their lost property and reclaim their lost or destroyed property
May Hadaya ICLA Coordinator at NRC
She was working as a Lawyer back in Mosul, but ISIS forced May Hadaya to leave her home 3 years ago. Now she is working with the Norwegian Refugee Council helping people from Mosul obtain official identification documents. Want to know more about May? Watch this video #WorldHumanitarianDay #NotATarget #IraqPosted by NRC Middle East on 21. august 2017
Shelter and settlements
In the harsh and varied climates of Iraq, shelter is essential for people to live safely and securely while a lack of adequate shelter in many areas features among the key obstacles to sustainable return. Our teams:
- provide materials, training and/or financial resources so internally displaced, refugee and returnee families can repair homes
- improve shelter accessibility for people with special needs
- rehabilitate and upgrade damaged or partially destroyed shelters
- distribute emergency shelter (tents, shelter sealing-off kits) and basic household items such as blankets, mattresses and heaters to people who have been forced to flee their homes
- advocate for improved access to adequate housing and the governmental property compensation programme for those whose homes have been destroyed as a result of the conflict
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
Our WASH teams work to protect people from public health risks and to restore the water and sanitation capacity in highly damaged returnee areas. We work to:
- rehabilitate water networks and water treatment plants
- provide safe and sufficient water supply, either through water trucking or by setting up water supply systems
- provide sanitation facilities, like latrines
- support solid waste management processes in neighbourhoods with high destruction rates
- distribute hygiene kits, water storage kits, sanitation kits and latrine cleaning kits along with hygiene promotion
Cash assistance and livelihoods
We have been one of the largest cash providers in Iraq, including through our membership in the Cash Consortium of Iraq (CCI) bringing together five of the largest NGOs operational in Iraq, shifting from first line assistance to the displaced, where access to markets was guaranteed, towards assisting returnee families in their efforts to re-establish their lives. We provide them with the flexibility to spend this assistance on what they need most. To facilitate reintegration of returnees in their home areas, we complement our cash efforts with a variety of livelihood activities that aim to support returnees’ resilience and self-sufficiency. Our livelihoods and cash programming:
- provide multi-purpose cash assistance, which offers one-time or repeated cash transfers to displaced and returnee families, depending on their vulnerability
- provide people with cash grants that help promote self-employment opportunities and contribute to local market development
- provide skills training that focuses on improved capacity for economic self-reliance and knowledge, skill-sets, and social capital to support the recovery process
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
- Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
- United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)
- Department for International Development (DFID)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
- Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
About NRC in Iraq
Urban Shelter Response - Lessons From Baghdad
A clean drop in the ocean: Working in Iraq’s worst health crisis
Last summer, the Iraqi southern governorate of Basra witnessed waves of protests when its citizens appealed for better access to services. The water’s contamination levels rocketed and clean water became inaccessible to many of the governorate’s households.
The Mobile Technician from Mosul
IRAQ/Mosul: During the IS group’s control, many students left school because of changes in the curriculum and a high focus on fighting and violence. Eighteen-year-old Mohammed didn’t finish his high school degree. "The new curriculum didn’t encourage me to study, and I was mentally tired. I also needed to work for a living."
Peace Prize 2018: NRC on the ground in Sinjar
Three years after the Iraqi town of Sinjar was recaptured from Islamic State group, the Yazidis have begun to return. The town is in ruins and the population has largely been left to its own devices. The Norwegian Refugee Council is the only international humanitarian organisation with a permanent presence in the town.