• 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

  • 38,434,000 Total population [?]
  • 4,288,000 People in Need [?]
  • 1,665,000 IDPs [?]
  • 4,267,000 IDP Returnees [?]
  • 253,000 Syrian Refugees [?]



The people of Iraq have endured subsequent crises over the past two decades, including the US-led invasion In 2003, incidents of sectarian violence until 2011, and most recently the occupation by Islamic State (IS) from 2014-2017. The current situation is characterised by significant internal displacement and  severe economic and social decline. Around 1.5 million people are internally displaced, many considered in or at risk of protracted displacement. Over 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Around 1.8 million are in acute need, of whom almost half are in Ninewa and Al-Anbar governorates.?

Iraqis lack basic services, including electricity and water, and lack job opportunities. Water shortages in the southern provinces in 2018, sparked protests that became widespread by October 2019 as people in Baghdad and Basra protested the lack of basic services, lack of jobs, and corruption. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent containment measures, protests over lack of public services continue across Iraq.?

Insecurity is widespread and tensions recur between the different sects, and between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal government. Tensions rose between the federal government and the Sunni and the Kurdish populations with the formation of the largely Shia militia the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd Al Shaabi), and its integration into the official Iraqi armed forces. The disputed territories in northern Iraq between the KRG and federal government remain a key issue.?

Iraq hosts more than 244,00 Syrian refugees. 99% reside in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), with about one-third living in camps and the rest in urban, rural and peri-urban areas.?

The humanitarian crisis is compounded by reoccurring, countrywide natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.

INFORM measures Iraq’s risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster to be very high, at 7.2/10. Hazard and exposure, as well as lack of coping capacity, are of particular concern, at 8.6/10 and 7/10 rates. ?

Humanitarian Access


very High constraints

In mid-2019, the Iraqi government initiated a plan to close IDP camps and facilitate returns – pushing some IDPs to secondary displacement, away from services provided by humanitarian organisations in camps. Thousands of people are still without documentation, which is stopping them from accessing aid. Administrative restrictions – including difficulties in obtaining authorisations by NGOs – continue to affect the operations and movement of humanitarians. The federal government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I) government function separately in regard to humanitarian operations. For instance, NGOs registered in KR-I cannot operate in federal Iraq. As a result, humanitarian actors operating in the disputed territories between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government face challenges in coordination between the two governments. Insecurity in some parts of Iraq, particularly in Diyala governorate, disrupts humanitarian operations. Iraq remains one of the world’s most contaminated countries by landmines and ERW, particularly in southern Iraq and the Kurdistan region.

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.

COVID-19 Outbreak


Iraq had registered 508,508 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 12 November, with 11,482 deaths.?Lockdown measures have had a significant negative effect on marginalised communities, including refugees and IDPs, who have experienced employment and income loss as a result of movement restrictions.? According to a survey conducted in June 2020 on IDPs, returnees, and refugees across Iraq, 86% of respondents said they were unable to meet their basic needs because of COVID-19 restrictions, with refugees (92%) and IDPs outside camps (90%) the most affected. Erbil and Anbar governorates had the highest percentages of people surveyed who were unable to meet their basic needs.? Protection issues, including child protection, have also increased since the start of the pandemic, especially for IDPs in centre and southern governorates. Lack of access to education remained the most commonly reported child protection issue for IDPs. 83% of children surveyed in IDP camps across Iraq did not receive any type of schooling in April. Access to education remains an issue.?

Key Priorities


Protection: Protection needs stem from protracted displacement, which often includes forced displacement or blocked returns, limited financial resources, and overall increase in insecurity.?

Health:. Many health facilities were destroyed during the conflict and many medical professionals fled the country, resulting in overcrowded hospitals and shortages of drugs and medical staff. Almost 2 million returnees are at risk of not having their basic health needs met in 2020.?

Livelihoods: Years of conflict destroyed livelihoods, with unemployment nearing 13% in June 2020. Some 3,400 square kilometers are contaminated with landmines and explosives, hindering free movement in pursuit of livelihoods. Displaced people often have no access to livelihood opportunities. Half of all out-of-camp IDP households report that all working adults are in unstable employment.?

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.