Since 2003, Mercy Corps has been working to pave the way for a new Iraq. We continue to deliver emergency, life-saving assistance to conflict affected populations while also addressing longer term needs and underlying causes. Ongoing cycles of conflict have resulted in millions of people displaced, basic infrastructure destroyed, livelihoods disrupted, and deepening divisions within communities. Since our work began, we’ve provided support to more than 5 million people affected by war, violence, and displacement.
Fifteen years of conflict have left a diverse population across Iraq fractured and divided, struggling in the face of conflict, extremism and political dysfunction. Many of those who lived in the most violent areas of the country have since fled their homes in search of safety. The conflict has dramatically exacerbated issues like poverty and lack of access to water and sanitation.
6.7 million people are still desperately in need of humanitarian assistance. Another 2.3 million people are in need of water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Over 6 million people have been displaced due to violent conflict since 2014 — only half have been able to return home since then with 1.8 million people remaining displaced.
2.6 million children need access to education, their education having been disrupted by the ongoing conflict or the need to help support their families. Many children end up working on the streets while many young girls are vulnerable to abuse or forced into early marriages.
Meanwhile, thousands of Syrian refugees escaping from violent conflict have crossed the border in an attempt to seek shelter in Iraq. 250,000 refugees are currently living in Iraq, creating even greater humanitarian needs.
Iraqi people have demonstrated an ability to rise again and again from crisis. They continue to strive to build better lives and transform their communities. With the right support and opportunities, they have a strong chance at building a better future.
In Iraq, Mercy Corps is led by Country Director Tanya Evans, who oversees a multi-national team of more than 350 staff across 9 offices. With our national headquarters split between the capital in Baghdad and Erbil in the north, we have significant operations in Mosul and Kirkuk, with additional teams based across the country. Our deep understanding of the issues facing Iraq comes from our staff, more than 92 percent of whom call Iraq their lifelong home.
2019 is a critical turning point on the road to recovery; Mercy Corps will continue to work hand in hand with communities, supporting them to rebuild their lives by increasing livelihood opportunities through trainings and business cash grants, providing healing psychosocial and education support to youth who have had to drop out, rebuilding water and sanitation systems, and facilitating programs that foster social cohesion among communities.
Our work in Iraq addresses urgent needs for aid, support and resources for its people while making long-term investments in community recovery. Here are some of our results to date:
- Last year, we reached more than 1 million people inside Iraq with lifesaving assistance and resources to build a better life for their families.
- Since September 2017, we’ve distributed winter kits and hygiene kits to more than 32,000 people.
- Since September 2017, we’ve educated more than 153,600 parents, caregivers, and school staff on the importance of education and education rights.
- Our social cohesion programming resulted in groups working together to improve water and electricity services for over 39,700 Iraqis.
How to help
Iraq, Syria: Expanding support for Syrian refugees in Iraq
The number of Syrians fleeing to Iraq tripled in the last year. We've mobilized to help refugees prepare for winter and find work to support their families.
Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria: Syria: An ongoing crisis
Refugee numbers are predicted to double as Syria's violent conflict drags on. We're on the ground in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq helping meet their most urgent needs for water, warmth and safety.
Iraq: From protest to power
Our program saved lives this past August. It was one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen in Iraq in the last 10 years.
Iraq: Inheriting a stronger nation
For the last nine years, Mercy Corps' Community Action Program has worked in phases to empower individuals, community groups and local governments to improve life in Iraq.
Iraq: A life after divorce
Rasha’s story is unfortunately typical of girls in Iraq: She was married off against her will at age 13.
Iraq: Making the law work for them
In the Middle East, Iraq has a history of being a leader in promoting women's rights. Even after the fall of Saddam Hussein, women were some of the first to organize across ethnic and religious lines to advocate for democratic change.
Iraq: One hundred text messages she can read and write
The noise was deafening. I had asked a simple question — “How has the WAI program changed your life?” — and everyone had an answer. I didn’t know what to focus on. Spoons clinked in tea glasses and the women never stopped talking.
Iraq: Empowered youth build stronger society
Salahadin in one of the hardest hit provinces in Iraq. Just north of Baghdad, services here are hard to come by and the security situation is often critical. But it is also the center of a groundswell of civic activism and organization.
Iraq: Teachers celebrate women in Iraq
It’s fitting that teachers from our Women’s Awareness and Inclusion (WAI) program got together to celebrate International Women’s Day — many of them for the first time.
Iraq: A safer walk to school in Basra
Flying into Basra in southern Iraq for the first time, all I could see was desert and the occasional smoke plumes from the oil fields.