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Boy receiving food package from Islamic Relief staff member


Recurring conflict and political instability have shattered the lives of families and communities across Iraq and hindered stability and growth across the nation. A staggering 4.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million people who are internally displaced inside Iraq. For those who have been forced to leave their homes to seek shelter in abandoned buildings, displacement camps and makeshift shelters, the situation on the ground is particularly dire. Damaged and neglected water and sanitation systems allow illnesses such as diarrhoea to spread, with a particularly harmful effect on children. As hospitals struggle to cope, a lack of medicines and supplies mean that many people cannot access the care they so desperately need.

Without access to clean safe water, education, health services and a stable income, millions of people are living in poverty, facing poor health and an uncertain future.

The situation in Iraq

Recurring conflict and political instability have shattered the lives of families and communities across Iraq.


of Iraqis live on less than $2.20 (£1.60) a day (UNDP, 2021)

3.2 million

school-aged children in Iraq do not attend school (UNICEF, 2021)


of young people (aged 15-24) are not in education or employment (UNDP, 2021)

4 in 10

people do not have access to a safe source of drinking water (UNDP, 2021)

Islamic Relief in Iraq

Islamic Relief has been working in Iraq since 1997 and was among the few aid agencies that continued work on the ground during the military incursion in 2003. 

The US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 caused many civilian casualties and led to a civil war within the country. During this time, Islamic Relief established its first offices and rehabilitation centres to support war-affected communities in Baghdad (from 2003) and Erbil (from 2007).

The diverse local team includes many of the religious and ethnic components of Iraqi society: Christians, Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Arabs, Yazidis, and Turkmen. 

Islamic Relief has successfully supported 1.3 million women, men, girls and boys with our life-saving and life-changing activities in Iraq. Among our interventions have been setting up the Orphans Sponsorship Programme in 2004, in Baghdad, Anbar, Karbala, Diyala, Erbil and Dohuk governorates; providing humanitarian aid in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake on the border with Iran in 2005; and reconstructing hospitals and water wells. We also served as a lifeline amid the Battle of Fallujah which began in 2004 and ended in 2007, We were the first organisation to enter the city and distributing food parcels to civilians under siege. 

Islamic Relief in action

The first of our projects in Iraq to receive United Nations funding was the setup of Al-Waleed camp in 2008. Established by Islamic Relief on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the camp sheltered uprooted Iraqi families and Palestinian refugees. Situated in a desert, the camp was subject to extreme weather fluctuation, and desperately needed water wells and a sewage system. We built wells and distributed food in the camp, which has since closed as many of the refugees have relocated.

Lady receiving Ramadan food package from Islamic Relief member
Image: An Islamic Relief aid worker distributes Ramadan food parcel.

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