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Islamic Relief

History of Country

The legacy of war

Iraq has gone through a series of crises over the last three decades, and there is still no end in sight. The Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 Gulf War were followed by 13 years of acute poverty under UN sanctions.

The devastating effects of the 2003 war continue. An estimated 100 people are killed each day in Iraq according to the UN – with the country experiencing its deadliest day in five years as over 1,000 civilians died in October 2013.

The unrelenting violence, power cuts, water shortages and rising fuel prices, make daily life a challenge for ordinary people in Iraq.


Since 2006, more than 1.7 million people have been internally displaced within Iraq. Another 2.2 million are living as refugees outside of the country. Although many of these people fled their homes in the 1980s, numbers soared in the aftermath of the 2003 war.

The brutal conflict in neighbouring Syria has driven tens of thousands of refugees back to Iraq, and has so far forced an estimated 200,000 Syrians to seek safety across the border.
Displaced families struggle to find safety from the chronic insecurity on the streets. Many are forced to live in abandoned public buildings or to build their own makeshift shelters. Temporary shelters often lack access to water, proper sanitation facilities or electricity.

Islamic Relief's History in Iraq

Thousands of Iraqis have had their lives torn apart by war
Islamic Relief has been working in Iraq since 1996, when we distributed food to vulnerable people. The next year, we provided leukaemia medicines for 15 hospitals.

We were on the ground throughout the military incursions and throughout the 2003 war. Emergency programmes included food, clothing, and health-kit distributions, and we also rehabilitated damaged schools and health centres and delivered clean-up programmes in Baghdad and Falluja.

We opened our Baghdad field office in 2003, and later a further field office in Erbil – capital of the Kurdish-Iraq region.

In 2011, we began a major UNHCR-funded project to repair 200 houses and replace damaged water and sanitation facilities in Ninewa governate.

Current Islamic Relief Iraq programmes include Ramadan and Qurbani food distributions, and orphan sponsorship.

Islamic Relief