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: A soft spot in a tough place
Kirkuk, Iraq is a hard place — but, in the middle of it all, there’s a soft spot for children.
Iraq: VIDEO: "Sadness has become my food and my clothes"
Over the course of the week and a half I've been in northern Iraq so far, I've seen — and heard — a lot about Kurdish culture. It's extremely hospitable, thoughtful and fiercely passionate.
Iraq: VIDEO: A song, laughter and clapping
A school isn't only a place of learning for a child, it's a place of security. It's a place to be among trusted friends and caring adults.
Iraq: Finding the story
I work with Awatif in southern Iraq, but we had to travel across the country to get to know one another.
Iraq: Youth under siege, but waging peace
Iraq: Life amidst the ruins
Iraq: Images from the Iraq Storytelling Workshop
Mercy Corps recently held a writing and photography workshop for 22 staffers from all over Iraq. On the second day of training, they had the chance to visit three villages around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk to do interviews and take photographs.
Iraq: Putting their new skills into practice
Iraq: How Iraq sounds to most of us
In the days before I left the U.S., when I was telling friends and family about traveling to Iraq, the words I heard most were, “Really? Be careful.”
Iraq: The Mercy Corps women of Baghdad
Although I don’t have any statistics on this subject, I feel pretty confident that Mercy Corps is probably one of the only international organizations in Iraq whose Baghdad Office was primarily opened and established by women.