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 programmes 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: 'Nothing equals education'
Forty-four-year-old Kareem Kateh has been a farmer in southern Iraq his entire life. He didn’t have many other options: the nearest school was too far away to complete his primary school education. Still he made a good living, and was able to buy a large plot of land for his family.
Iraq: Arazu's dream
One of the participants in the Mercy Corps Iraq-sponsored Creating Murals For Kalar Kindergarten project — in which art students paint murals on local school walls — is 22-year-old Arazu Hassan Salih.
Iraq: Literacy class graduation in Basra
Graduates of Mercy Corps' literacy programme in Basra, Iraq, proudly holding their certificates.
Iraq: Two Iraqi women, determined to succeed
Before I started working with Mercy Corps' Women’s Awareness and Inclusion (WAI) programme, I was working with another non-governmental organisation on land mine awareness and education.
Iraq: "Disability does not stand between a man and his aspirations"
"Disability does not stand as obstacle between a man and his aspirations. The real disability is the disability of will and determination," 21-year-old Hassan told me.
Iraq: Remembering the importance of "community" in community development
Mercy Corps has been in Iraq’s four southernmost provinces — Basra, Maysan, Muthanna and Thi Qar — since 2003, implementing the USAID-funded Community Action Programme.
Iraq: That's no way to say goodbye
As unrest throughout North Africa and the Middle East dominates the headlines and underlines the problems of lack of democracy, civic participation and unemployment, it’s a surprising time for the United Kingdom (UK) to be ending development assistance to Iraq.
Iraq: Reclaiming a place for Iraqi youth
For many years, there was a very bad place in the middle of Kalar, Iraq. It had no name, but all kinds of malice and misfortune spread from it, spilling into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Iraq: Literacy builds confidence for women in southern Iraq
Iraq: Protests, violence and the new speed of news
A few hours ago, I saw troubling signs come up on my Facebook page. One friend I made last month when I was visiting Iraq posted photos from a day of protests and violence in Sulaymaniyah, the city where I stayed.