Read caption Displaced people from Mosul and surrounding areas in Hasan Sham camp where NRC is providing emergency aid such as food parcels, water and hygiene kits in addition to school support and safe spaces for children. Photo: Hussein Amri/NRC

NRC in Iraq

The humanitarian crisis in Iraq remains one of the largest and most volatile in the world.

A total of


people in need received our assistance in 2021.


Humanitarian overview

Iraq saw unprecedented levels of displacement resulting from the conflict between coalition forces and the Islamic State group. Of the more than 6 million Iraqis who fled their homes since 2014, 1.2 million remain internally displaced. Over 4.8 million Iraqis have returned to their areas of origin. Humanitarian organisations believe that many of these returns have been premature, unsafe or involuntary. Iraqis have returned to areas lacking basic infrastructure, utility services, livelihood opportunities, or where explosive devices have not been cleared. Challenges include lack of security, community acceptance, housing, property, civil documentation and education.

The humanitarian community estimates that more than 4.1 million Iraqis will need assistance in 2021 and initially asked for USD 607 million to deliver basic assistance (HRP 2021). With military operations against IS group largely concluded, the Iraqi government now faces new challenges including managing civil unrest, mitigating the impacts of Covid-19, reduced oil prices and economic productivity.


People we helped in Iraq in 2021

people benefited from our education programme
people benefited from our food security programme
people benefited from our shelter programme
people benefited from our camp management programme
people benefited from our ICLA programme

NRC's operation

We assist internally displaced Iraqis, Syrian refugees, returnees and host communities, focusing on those in protracted displacement in camps, informal settlements and areas of return, with a particular emphasis on hard-to-reach populations.

We are continuing to shift towards early recovery programming, aiming for sustainable development, providing integrated and localised services to assist the displacement-affected populations while maintaining our capacity to respond to emergencies.

NRC Camp managementCamp management


Following partial camp closures and camp consolidation cycles in the second halves of 2018 and 2019, the governmental push for closures in late 2020 resulted in the large majority of internal displacement camps in Federal Iraq closing, including all formal camps managed by NRC. As a result of these closures, there are multiple informal sites throughout Iraq, ranging in size from 30 individuals to over 3,000. NRC remains the site manager for the largest informal site in Iraq. NRC strives to provide settlement level support to these secondarily displaced people through either static or mobile activities including:

  • overseeing the maintenance of communal facilities and monitoring for service gaps in the site
  • collecting data and managing information related to the population of the site
  • focusing on upholding community participation in site governance structures where possible
  • monitoring returns, resettlement and integration and advocating for dignified, safe and long-term solutions for displaced people
  • leading coordination between humanitarian actors, local authorities, and the site community
  • establishing and following through on public health contingency planning through containment, mitigation, response and household level shielding activities

The goal is to enhance the protective environment of such sites, advocate on key identified needs, and link these sites to service providers. NRC continues the implementation of humanitarian coordination and information management approaches to address the needs of the urban displaced, returning, and integrating people outside of camps and sites. The programme has established mechanisms to enhance:

  • communication with communities on key outreach issues, such as disability and access to services
  • sharing information with and receiving feedback from displaced and vulnerable host communities
  • community engagement through the participation of affected communities alongside local stakeholders in the humanitarian and development response
  • efficient, effective, and inclusive coordination of services at local level, involving a range of stakeholders including authorities, civil society, NGOs, and the private sector


NRC EducationEducation


We ensure that children and youth have access to quality education and skills development opportunities which are critical for building personal and community-level resilience of displacement affected girls, boys and youth. We:

  • support formal schools to prevent dropouts
  • provide teacher trainings, follow-up support, and learning materials
  • provide remedial classes, basic literacy and numeracy support, and vocational and life-skills training, to conflict- and displacement -affected children and youth
  • provide recreational activities, psychosocial support and stress management, and skills development to children and teachers
  • advocate for unimpeded access to education for out-of-school children, including Syrian refugee children’s integration into formal state schools in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • support distance education options in response to recurrent school closures since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, including remote access to curriculum, and complementary remedial support via social media platforms, phone sessions and door-to-door individual tutoring visits
  • support the safe re-opening of schools in response to health risks imposed by the pandemic through awareness raising for school personnel and students, provision of disinfecting, cleaning and safety materials, and ensuring schools meet minimum standards for WASH in schools
  • ensure school-aged girls and boys are protected through training teachers and education personnel on PSEA and child protection and wellbeing, engagement and capacity building of caregivers on education and protection risks in Parent-Teacher Associations and Mother Groups, and referrals to protection or other basic services as needed


NRC Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)

NRC Iraq lawyers and paralegals work to increase access to legal identity and civil documentation, legal residency and registration, housing, land and property (HLP) rights, as well as employment rights of internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees, refugees and vulnerable local community members in Iraq. Our ICLA programme:

  • increases community awareness through the delivery of group information and dissemination of tailored information materials on legal issues
  • provides individual legal assistance– one-on-one legal counselling and legal representation before authorities and courts in more complicated or vulnerable cases
  • adopts a localised, mobile approach to overcome obstacles facing vulnerable people, targeting those most in need, with particular emphasis on the rights of women and girls
  • couples its legal support for vulnerable people with the use of cash for legal fees and transportation costs to maximise added value
  • supports people in claiming the government’s social assistance where available
  • implements research initiatives and produces analyses and reports on access to rights and justice of displaced people in Iraq, including research relevant to Syrian refugees who may have housing or land claims inside Syria
  • maintains vigorous advocacy efforts to the advantage of the displaced vis-à-vis a variety of duty bearers and stakeholders on community, local and national level
  • supports alternative and customary mechanisms of housing, land and property dispute resolution and labour disputes through capacity building of officials and community leaders on Collaborative Dispute Resolution (CDR) techniques, or direct interventions to facilitate mediation or negotiation
  • works with administrative, judicial and security officials to facilitate displaced Iraqis’, refugees’, and vulnerable local community members’ access to obtaining legal and civil documentation, processing property compensation claims or reclaiming their housing and land
  • supports Iraqi households and mine action actors in navigating the housing and land tenure issues related to mine clearance
  • actively participates or co/leads humanitarian coordination mechanisms in the legal protection sector on local and national levels
  • leads advocacy efforts to put in place a national moratorium on evictions during the Covid-19 crisis
  • provides essential information about labour rights in Iraq to small business employers and employees


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 #Iraq

Posted by NRC Middle East on 21. august 2017

NRC Shelter and settlementsShelter and settlements


NRC’s shelter and settlements programming improves living conditions that provide dignity, better access and well-being for conflict affected populations through both advocacy and programming, thereby fostering protection and strengthening resilience. Our shelter teams:

  • provide materials, training and/or financial resources so internally displaced, refugee and returnee families can repair their homes
  • improve shelter accessibility for people with special needs
  • rehabilitate and upgrade damaged or partially destroyed shelters as a result of conflict
  • 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
  • reinforce security of tenure
  • minor rehabilitation of key community level infrastructures that enable sustainable and safe returns to be achieved


NRC Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion


NRC maintains the ability to trigger reactive WASH work in informal sites and during emergency response. Beyond this, NRC Iraq’s prior experience in large-scale WASH work has been directed towards mainstreaming WASH in our education, livelihoods, and agricultural work.


NRC Livelihoods and food securityLivelihoods and food security

We have been one of the largest cash providers in Iraq, including through our membership of the Cash Consortium of Iraq (CCI) which brings 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 and improve people’s ability to get closer to a durable solution. We also implement a variety of livelihood activities that aim to support displacement affected populations’ resilience and self-sufficiency. Our livelihoods and cash programmes:

  • provide multi-purpose cash assistance, which offers one-time or multi-month cash transfers to displaced and returnee families, depending on their vulnerability to meet basic needs
  • provide access to emergency livelihoods support in the form of Cash for Work and asset restoration/livelihood activation grants
  • provide households with business grants that help promote self-employment opportunities and contribute to local market development
  • support recovery of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through provision of business scale-up grants and quality business development services (training, management support, strategy development, legal assistance)
  • provide market-oriented training that focuses on improving capacity for economic self-reliance and knowledge, skillsets, and social capital to support the recovery process
  • enhance employability and income earning opportunities of youth through apprenticeships, job placement/internship programmes or job referrals
  • promote restoration of agricultural productive capacity through agro-infrastructure rehabilitation, provision of inputs/starter up kits using in-kind and market-based approaches, technical agriculture training and facilitating safe and sustainable access to farming land
  • where markets are not functional or access to financial service providers are not feasible, emergency support to individuals in need of food will be assisted through in-kind modalities


Emergency response

Through NRC’s established emergency response teams, we are able to provide:

  • emergency assistance to vulnerable communities to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak through the distribution of hygiene kits, delivering key hygiene messaging and installing handwashing points
  • rapid response multi-purpose cash, cash for food, or in-kind food
  • shelter NFIs and rapid site maintenance activities
  • general information sessions to communities on their rights and pathways to access services


NRC Iraq is grateful for the generous support from our donors:


  • 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)
  • European Union Regional Trust Fund (MADAD, EUTF, NEAR)
  • Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
  • United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR)
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
  • European Commission (DEVCO)
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
  • Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • KfW Development Bank (KfW)
  • Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP)
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BMFA)
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Private Funds (Equinor)

About NRC in Iraq

International staff
Areas of operation
Erbil (Country Office), Dohuk, Kirkuk, Anbar, Ninewah, Basra and Salah Al Din.
Budget 2020
USD 39.3 million
National staff

Country Director

Country Director

Rishana Haniffa


+964 751 741 0860

Urban Shelter Response - Lessons From Baghdad