Where We Work


Syria Crisis

A refugee crisis more than a decade old

After years of armed conflict, sectarian violence and political instability, more than 1 million Iraqis are still unable to return to their homes.

International Medical Corps was among the first international NGOs to establish lifesaving humanitarian programs in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 Iraq war. We have been there ever since, and have helped those in need in all 18 of the country’s governorates.

Since 2014, our efforts have focused on meeting the needs of conflict-affected Iraqis and more than 270,000 Syrian refugees hosted in the country, primarily in northern and central Iraq.


42 million




2.5 million

Syria Refugee Crisis

After more than a decade, the Syrian war continues to inflict incomprehensible levels of suffering on civilians and fuel the largest displacement crisis in the world today.

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The Challenges

Displacement and Returnees

Following the conflict, more than 1.1 million Iraqis remain displaced, refugees within their own country. Many of them have been displaced more than once.


High unemployment, rising cost of living and lack of economic opportunities meant that one-quarter of Iraqi households lived below the poverty line in 2022.

Overburdened Services

Public services like healthcare and mental health services are overwhelmed, leaving many people with inadequate access.

Climate Change

After years of conflict and instability, the country is especially vulnerable to drought, heatwaves and desertification.

Our Response

Emergency Response

Though many years have passed since the 2003 war, Iraq continues to experience a large-scale humanitarian crisis, as government authorities struggle to restore basic amenities. To support those caught up in ongoing violence, International Medical Corps responds quickly to emergencies anywhere in the country, using prepositioned stocks of essential supplies and an active roster of technical staff who can be rapidly mobilized.

Community Health

Our community health workers (CHWs) play a vital role in connecting beneficiaries with project services by conducting regular door-to-door visits and delivering tailored messages about child protection (CP), gender-based violence (GBV) and mental health and psychosocial services (MHPSS) to communities. They identify the most at-risk people and refer them to available services. Our team also conducts weekly educational activities to engage communities and facilitate in-depth discussions on various topics, contributing to community awareness and addressing issues around health and well-being.

To ensure that our outreach efforts are effective, we conduct regular assessments to identify the community’s specific needs and challenges. This enables us to tailor our messages and services to better meet each community’s requirements and target those most in need. We also work closely with local community leaders and organizations to ensure that our outreach efforts are culturally sensitive and appropriate.

Gender-based Violence

International Medical Corps is a leader in implementing GBV prevention and response programs in Iraq. We provide survivor-centered GBV case management, risk mitigation, response and prevention services. In Dohuk, we have established two women’s and girls’ safe spaces (WGSS), which offer essential services and outreach activities to support GBV survivors, as well as vulnerable refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees. At the WGSS, we also provide empowerment and psychosocial services, skills-building and recreational activities.

Our GBV referral system is linked to our CP and MHPSS networks, ensuring integrated care. We provide GBV services through static WGSS, and reach women and girls in remote areas through mobile teams. Our programming for adolescent girls teaches them new skills, empowering them and helping to mitigate the risks they face daily.

To prevent GBV and provide a safer environment for women and girls, we engage men—including traditional male leaders and local stakeholders—through effective communication strategies that challenge harmful gender norms and promote behavior change.

Our experience has shown that community-led initiatives are vital in combatting GBV. These initiatives, which involve meaningful messaging for local populations, are key to engaging with and building the support needed from government and community leaders to achieve a lasting impact. We provide mentoring to those interested in actively supporting GBV prevention and response. Our GBV outreach workers run community-based prevention and response campaigns, identify vulnerable women and girls, inform them of available services and, if needed, make referrals.

Child Protection

Because we understand the role that community members and local actors play in preventing, mitigating and responding to protection issues and concerns, we enhance CP response, mitigation and prevention by building the capacity of frontline service providers and strengthening coordination among different protection sectors. We also engage with government institutions by building their capacity and improving their knowledge about CP rights and concerns.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)

International Medical Corps delivers integrated MHPSS services to refugees, IDPs and host communities through mental health case management, community outreach and specialized consultations at both the community and clinical levels. We train local stakeholders in providing brief psychological interventions, such as psychological first aid and mental health case management, and training in the World Health Organization’s Problem Management Plus and Mental Health Gap Action Programme.

We helped the Ministry of Health in develop and implement its national MHPSS strategy, which included supporting many psychosocial units within health facilities. We are currently supporting the reactivation of six psychosocial units within primary healthcare centers, and the establishment of two mental health service users associations.

Capacity Building

To address the lack of trained mental health professionals in Iraq, we provide training to help partners strengthen national and local capacity, ensuring that stakeholders can respond to protection and MHPSS needs efficiently. After training, participants receive continued supervision to enhance their learning and ensure that they are applying their skills appropriately.

Junior Community Health Workers in Iraq

Hear from three kids about their experience working with our Junior Community Health Worker program in Iraq.

Our Impact in 2023

People reached with community outreach activities around MHPSS and protection
People benefitted from our women’s and girls’ safe spaces and GBV response services
People received our MHPSS services (individual counselling, group support, psychoeducation and specialized mental health consultations)

Home Is Where One Starts From

International Medical Corps developed a series of comic books for children displaced by the conflict in Syria and Iraq to teach them important messages about disease prevention, safety in camps and about how to promote well-being. The comic book "Going Home Again" tells the story of a Syrian boy named Ahmed who is forced to flee from his village after fighting breaks out and a military plane drops bombs on his neighborhood.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the challenges faced by IDPs in Iraq?

    Most of Iraq’s remaining internally displaced persons (IDPs) have now been displaced for more than five years. They face numerous challenges, including poverty, debt and lack of economic opportunities. Many lack legal documentation and therefore struggle to access basic services such as healthcare, mental health support and education.

  • What challenges do Iraqi returnees face?

    Returning home doesn’t mean that the difficulties for displaced Iraqis are over. Their places of origin may still have significant political and security tensions, and returnees sometimes struggle to reintegrate into their communities after years of displacement. Returnees can also face social stigma and discrimination from their communities, especially if they are from minority groups. For these reasons, psychosocial support and protection services are especially important to help returnees rebuild their lives.

  • Is Iraq still experiencing a humanitarian crisis?

    Even after the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq more than six years ago, the country continues to experience a protracted humanitarian crisis. Many people face poverty, lack of economic opportunities, hunger and inadequate basic services. Environmental and climate challenges—such as severe water shortages, reduced arable land, heatwaves and environmental degradation—exacerbate the situation.

  • Who are the refugees in Iraq?

    Of the 300,000+ refugees in Iraq, more than 90% are Syrian. The country is also home to refugees from Palestine, Türkiye and Iran. Most refugees live in the Kurdistan region, in the north of the country.

  • How is climate change affecting Iraq?

    Iraq is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, with increasing temperatures, desertification and water scarcity already posing risks to the population’s health. By March 2024, an estimated 140,000 people had been displaced by climate change, and this number is expected to increase.

  • How can I help people in Iraq?

    You can support crisis-affected people in Iraq—and around the world—by donating to International Medical Corps today.



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