In 2014, Islamic State (IS) took over significant portions of Iraqi territory, triggering mass displacement and severe humanitarian needs. After military stalemate throughout much of 2015, government operations to retake territory from IS were stepped up in 2016, aggravating displacement and humanitarian needs, such as health and WASH, particularly in Anbar and Mosul corridors. Iraq has managed to take control of all IS strongholds as of November 2017 and only pockets of IS remain in western areas. Access constraints and human rights violations from all warring parties are of major concern.

Iraq now hosts 2.6 million IDPs, one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world. Over 3.2 million IDPs have returned to their areas of origin. Since October 2016 IDPs and Syrian refugees make up 25% of the population in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I).?

INFORM measures Iraq’s risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be very high, at 6.8/10. Hazard and exposure as well as lack of coping capacity are of particular concern, at 7.6/10 and 6.9/10 rates.? 

Latest Developments

15/01: Forced returns of IDPs to unsafe areas are of continuing concern across Iraq. Aid workers estimate between 2,400 and 5,000 people were forcibly returned to their areas of origin between 21 November and 2 January.?

National elections are scheduled to be held in May 2018. 

Key priorities

Protection is a major concern: human rights abuses by all armed groups are reported. 8.9 million are expected to need protection assistance in 2017.?

Health is a priority sector, with over 9.7 million people estimated in need in 2017, nearly two million more than in 2016.?

WASH services are partially or completely inaccessible for 8.3 million people in Iraq. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are a major concern.?


Information Gaps and needs


  • Lack of clear and updated information on nutrition, which is incorporated into health sector reporting.
  • Different delineations of administrative borders between central and regional governments (especially the KR-I) impacts on the accuracy of displacement tracking.
Key documents

Council on Foreign Relations


Backgrounder: The Islamic State



Iraq: 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview



Iraq: 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan