Responding to the crisis in Iraq

The Kurdistan Region hosts more than half of the 2 million internally displaced Iraqi, in addition to some 250,000 Syrian refugees ©UNDP Iraq/2014

Iraq is currently facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Over 2 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence since January 2014 and many are still in urgent need of help as the winter starts. The security situation is unpredictable and could lead to additional suffering of civilians and fresh waves of displacement.


  • UNDP co-leads with DRC the Social Cohesion and Sustainable Livelihoods cluster (for IDPs) and the Livelihoods Sector (Syrian refugees)
  • UNDP leads the resilience response in close cooperation with UNHCR
  • UNDP supports a series of community-based livelihoods and small infrastructure projects amounting to US$ 2.4 million in total
  • UNDP provides legal aid clinics to prevent and address gender-based violence in camps
  • UNDP joined forces with UN-Habitat, IOM and local governments to provide basic services in three new camps equipped with caravans for some 10,000 vulnerable IDPs in Dohuk, Erbil, Suleymaniya

Minority communities, children, women and the elderly are especially vulnerable. More than half of these newly displaced Iraqis are receiving shelter in the Kurdistan Region. Children make up almost half of the displaced in northern Iraq.

The UN and humanitarian partners are providing emergency life-saving shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, and medical aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

With Iraq already playing host to some 250,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria, the crisis is challenging the capacity of the federal, regional and local authorities to provide even the most basic of services.

UNDP is supporting the Iraqi authorities in strengthening their crisis coordination capacity to effectively respond. UNDP is also providing assistance to local authorities, helping to build community infrastructure as needs arise by, for example, digging fresh water wells, improving environmental sanitation or connecting camps to the electricity network.

UNDP equips the camp of Dawoodiya near Dohuk with basic services such as electricity, potable water, sewage and access roads ©UNDP Iraq/2014

Serious human rights abuses have been reported against civilians, and many displaced people are traumatized. UNDP and its non-government partners are building on previous efforts with Syrian refugees in northern and central Iraq to intensify legal aid services and psycho-social support for those affected, especially for youth and victims of gender-based violence.

UNDP is working with other agencies and partners to provide livelihoods opportunities for refugees, displaced people and the communities hosting through small grants for community projects amounting to total $2.4 million US dollars. Short-term cash-for-work activities also address the needs of the most vulnerable families.

Amongst other critical activities, UNDP funds a mine action programme, which will reach out to 100,000 displaced people and refugees in Kurdistan.

Finally, UNDP steps-up its support to strengthening legal, judicial and security sector reforms. This includes capacity building to help the Iraqi government implement its 4-year development programme and timely address potential setbacks in the country's socio-economic development.

Our images
  • Construction of 900 cabins in Dawoodiya camp for internally displaced persons in Dohuk Governorate (Dec 2014)
  • Construction of 900 cabins in Dawoodiya camp for internally displaced persons in Dohuk Governorate (Dec 2014)
  • Basic services for Dawoodiya camp (electricity, water) are provided by UNDP
  • Water wells in Dawoodiya camp in Dohuk Governorate are provided by UNDP
  • IDP camp near Dawoodiya in Dohuk Governorate
  • Displaced Yazidi near Dawoodiya in Dohuk Governorate

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Related documents
  • Presentation of the Strategic Response Plan 2014 (slides) English
  • Fast facts: UNDP’s response to the crisis English
  • UNDP-UNHCR Operational Framework for Iraq, 23 Nov 2014 English
  • Strategic Response Plan 2014-2015 English | Kurdish | Arabic
  • Immediate Response Plan (IRP) for the IDPs in KR-I Sep-Nov 2014 English | Arabic
  • Strategic Response Plan 2014 Revision Feb-Jun 2014 English