• 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 [?]
  • 4,289,000 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. ?

Latest Developments


19/11/2020: The Iraqi government have been closing IDP camps in Baghdad, Kerbala, Diyala, Anbar, Ninewa, and Kirkuk governorates since 18 October. The closures are part of Iraq’s wider initiative begun in 2019 to end protracted displacement, though the rate of camp closures accelerated in October 2020. More than 24,500 IDPs (out of 100,000 total in-camp IDPs in federal Iraq) have been forced out of 18 closed camps and informal sites across federal Iraq since October. Further closures are underway. Many IDPs are unable to return to their place of origin due to insecurity, and lack of services and livelihood opportunities. With no alternative shelter or adequate WASH facilities, IDPs are vulnerable to the harsh conditions of winter and the spread of COVID-19.?

For more information on the humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, please see the relevant paragraph below.

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information related to the outbreak.

Humanitarian Access


very High constraints

Denial of needs is reported as households with perceived affiliations to extremist groups are discriminated against when it comes to accessing aid. Restrictions of movement for humanitarians increased after the previous system of humanitarian access letters was dismantled in December without being replaced.  Interference with humanitarian activities continued through additional information and reporting requirements for organisations, and discrimination among aid recipients. Violence against personnel rose as showed by the abduction of four humanitarians in January 2020 (later released). COVID-19 impacted entry and movement of humanitarian goods and personnel, including the provision of essential services to IDP camps.

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.