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Map of Iraq

Where We Work : Iraq

Country Profile

Population 32,585,692
Human Development Rank 120/187
GNI per Capita US$2,640
Infant Mortality (per 1000 live births) 37/1000
Life Expectancy 71
Literacy Rate 78.5%

During 2014 Northern Iraq saw mass displacement and growing humanitarian needs following advances by so-called Islamic State militants. The United Nations designated the humanitarian crisis in Iraq a Level 3 – its highest-level emergency. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 1,814,862 people had been identified as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) since January 2015. Meanwhile, 1,248,000 people arrived in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in the last year, which was in addition to the 250,000 Syrian IDPs already in the region, putting significant pressure on resources and on the host population.

Thanks to your support Tearfund Ireland launched an appeal in September 2014, in response to the escalating political and humanitarian crisis in Iraq and primarily supporting Tearfund UK’s operational response, as well as local partners. The response initially focused on supporting CAPNI with food and hygiene pack distributions, but also moved in to unconditional cash assistance targeted at winterisation and WASH programming.

Vulnerable people were supplied with items such as clothing, kitchen kits, food and hygiene supplies. But more are desperately needed. As bitter cold sets in across refugee camps in Iraq and the wider Middle East temperatures are unimaginably low. Refugee tents can protect from the conflict but they cannot keep out freezing temperatures.


  • More than 1,200 families have received an emergency kitchen kit through CAPNI, who are also providing medical care through mobile health clinics.
  • The Chaldean Archdiocese currently runs a local school from Year 1 to 9 and the beneficiaries are local children and IDP children. A Special Needs Programme is included.
  • The Committee of Dohuk United Churches for Relief of Refugees requested that Tearfund fund an ultrasound machine for a medical clinic that has been set up on the church grounds for IDPs.

Below is an account from Amy Cummings, who was part of Tearfund’s (UK) needs assessment team.

Winter is Coming

‘Winter is coming.’ The words bring a sense of pending doom, even for people who only know it as a TV show catchphrase. In speaking with displaced communities in northern Iraq, I heard those same words over and over again, and they came with a similar sense of fear and uncertainty about the coming winter.

As part of Tearfund’s needs assessment team, my job was to spend time with the displaced communities to find out what their needs are so we can respond in the most appropriate way.

As we pulled up to the first displaced community, who were living beside a field in the remains of buildings once used for animals, we were warmly welcomed; they pulled out their good mattresses for us to sit on and quickly offered us tea and water.

But before we had even sat down they all started speaking at the same time – rapidly, passionately and with fear in their eyes. I desperately looked to my translator to find out what they were saying, and she said, ‘Winter – they are all saying, “Winter, what are we going to do for the winter?” ’

They fled with whatever they could carry. They have no winter clothes, no winter blankets, no heaters, no shelter – nothing. As we sat in the searing 50 degree heat, it was hard to imagine that winter could be a concern, but winter is coming and in just a few short weeks the temperatures will drop below zero. With current living conditions and supplies being far from suitable for the harsh winter, their fears will become a reality if something isn’t done soon.

They went on to tell us about their time on Mount Sinjar, where food and water were difficult to find and hundreds of children died from dehydration. They told us about their friends and family who were killed as they fled, and about their daughters who are still being held by IS. They told us all this as tears streamed down their faces.

We went to meet different displaced groups, speaking with Yazidis and Christians. From one group to the next, it was the same story, the same horrors, the same pain.

Each time I was lost for words. How could I respond? No words could bring comfort; words could not change what has happened. All I could do was pray – pray that they see compassion in my eyes, pray that they know God’s comfort, and pray that we as Tearfund can do something in a practical way to help alleviate their current suffering and fears for the future.

Fortunately I had the chance to see that begin to happen. We organised clothing distributions where more than 900 children received new clothes, warm enough for the coming months. Our team has given out food, blankets and hygiene kits, and we’re helping make sure people get access to water and sanitation.


Our local partners are taking mobile health clinics to remote areas, and are providing trauma care. In some ways it all feels like a drop in the ocean compared to the needs, but the smiles on the children’s faces when I gave them their new clothes told me otherwise.- Amy Cummings, Tearfund

Your gifts make this valuable work possible. Please help us to stand alongside those who are suffering in Iraq – donate here