• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 41,191,000 Total population [?]
  • 2,757,000 People in Need [?]
  • 253,000 Syrian Refugees [?]



The people of Iraq have endured consecutive crises over the past two decades, including the US-led invasion, incidents of sectarian violence, the occupation by Islamic State (IS), and most recently the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent economic slowdown. The conflict with IS created significant internal displacement. As at September 2021, there were around 1.18 million people displaced and 4.93 million returnees. Both groups are at risk of repeated and protracted displacement. The situation is characterised by economic and social decline and political and security volatility. There are 4.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance ?.

The new government, formed in May 2020, is facing significant long-lasting challenges including insecurity, political unrest, protests against corruption, and the oil price decline, which have led to severe economic hardship and an inability to provide basic services such as electricity and water ?. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent containment measures, protests over housing, jobs, electricity shortages, and other services continue across Iraq ?.

Iraq hosts more than 250,400 Syrian refugees and 41,100 refugees of other nationalities, mostly Turks, Iranians, and Palestinians. Around 99% of the refugees reside in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with about one-third living in camps. More than 207,000 host community members have been impacted by this displacement ??

INFORM measures Iraq’s risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be very high, at 6.5/10. Hazard and exposure, as well as lack of coping capacity, are of particular concern, at 7.7/10 and 6.6/10 rates. ?

Latest Developments


Clashes between Iraqi forces and Sinjar ‘resistance units’ (YBS) over 1-5 May displaced more than 10,200 Yazidi people from their homes in Sinjar district (Nineveh governorate). YBS formed in 2007 because of increased violence against the Yazidi religious minority. Some of the recently displaced Yazidis are staying with relatives, while over 5,700 people reached Chamisku camp in Duhok governorate (Kurdistan Region of Iraq), where they received assistance to cover some of their basic needs. Protracted disagreement over Sinjar between the Iraqi central and Kurdistan Regional governments disrupts reconstruction and meaningful security for the Yazidis. Turkish airstrikes since 2017 also prevent returns. Over 200,000 Yazidis remain displaced in IDP camps since the 2014 attack by Islamic State (IS), with 2,800 Yazidi women and children still missing or in IS captivity. Needs in IDP camps include access to livelihoods, education, and psychosocial assistance. ?

Humanitarian Access


very High constraints

Humanitarian access in Iraq remains challenging, mostly because of political and ethnic tensions and the presence of multiple armed groups and militias that impose movement restrictions and bureaucratic impediments, including the request for different documents. Such issues limit the delivery of aid and access of humanitarian actors to people in need. Military checkpoints, interventions, and administrative restrictions are the main impediments to humanitarian operations, particularly in the areas contested between the central and Iraqi Kurdistan governments in northern Iraq and areas controlled by different local authorities and armed groups.

Insecurity, violence, and the presence of landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to hamper movements, limiting people’s ability to access aid and causing the relocation of humanitarian staff or suspension of their operations, particularly in Baghdad, Iraqi Kurdistan, and southern Iraq.

The lack of civil documentation and the existence of discriminatory policies around accessing documentation remain major protection concerns for displaced people, returnees, and other vulnerable groups, including people suspected to be affiliated with the Islamic State. These difficulties lead to limited access to basic services, humanitarian assistance, internal movements, and livelihood opportunities.

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

COVID-19 Outbreak


Iraq had registered 2,159,993 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 24,300 deaths as at 25 January 2022 ?.

An additional 2.7 million people have fallen below the poverty line because of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. In 2020 the poverty rate reached 31% with 9.6 million people living under the poverty line, compared to 6.9 million in 2019 and prior to the pandemic ?.

Key Priorities


Livelihoods: About 3.4 million displaced people and returnees need emergency livelihood assistance in 2021. Returnees and IDPs often have no access to fixed employment opportunities and most are in unstable employment ?.
Protection: About 2.4 million people are in need of protection services in 2021. Protracted violence and displacement compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased protection needs and the adoption of increasingly negative coping strategies, including child labour and early marriage ?.
Health: The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the health system, which was already overstretched by damages to health facilities following years of conflict and the migration of medical professionals. This has resulted in overcrowded facilities and shortages of medical services ?.
WASH: About 2.6 million people need WASH support in 2021 – an increase from 1.8 million in 2020. WASH needs have particularly increased for returnees and out-of-camp IDPs, as many have moved to areas where water and sanitation infrastructure has been partially or totally destroyed ?.

Information Gaps and Needs

  • The tracking of IDPs that became refugees and the numbers of refugee returnees is lacking. Their needs and their whereabouts remain mostly unknown. 
  • Different delineations of administrative borders between central and regional governments (especially the KR-I) impacts on the accuracy of displacement tracking.
  • The number of IS fighters currently in Iraq is unknown and more recent estimates are lacking. 



In 2021, Iraq faced the second-driest season in 40 years and the third straight year of drought as a result of record low rainfall, high temperatures, and the loss of access to water from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers caused by climate change and excessive use of water sources. At least seven million people are at risk of losing access to water, leading to more dependency on expensive water trucking ?.

The low water levels in the Euphrates and Tigris rivers were induced by drought conditions and excessive upstreaming dam storage by neighbouring countries. This will continue to put a strain on agricultural, livestock, and fish production. It is estimated that over 50% of all crops (including major ones) were lost in 2021 because of the drought. More than 35% of wheat farmers and 30% of barley farmers reported crop failure by at least 90%, and 37% of households engaged in livestock reported losing animals. The drop in agricultural production has already led to an increase in prices and caused a loss of income for Agriculture About half of the households affected by drought are in need of food assistance ?.

The climate and environment insecurity, compounded by security and economic vulnerabilities, has increased social tension over water sources and led to the migration of rural populations to cities, particularly in southern Iraq. Rural communities are suffering from severe environmental degradation and lack of diverse economic opportunities. The situation will further aggravate the socioeconomic, humanitarian, and ecological conditions in Iraq ?