Protection and basic provisions in Baghdad for internally displaced Iraqis

Project completed
Aid recipients in Iraq queuing outside a supermarket at a point of distribution for food and other goods.
The SDC supports the work of the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children Switzerland in Iraq – among other things, these two non-governmental organisations provide food to internally displaced persons. Pictured: A supermarket where Save the Children provides those in need with food and other goods. © Hefinn Halldorsson/Save the Children Hedinn Halldorsson / Save the Children

In December 2013, another armed conflict started in Iraq’s Anbar province, before rapidly spreading to central and northern Iraq. Large segments of the civilian population were forced to abandon their homes. Many of these refugees have fled to Baghdad, where they are not properly protected and have insufficient basic supplies. The SDC is supporting the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an international non-governmental organisation working on behalf of internally displaced persons in Baghdad.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Capital Baghdad
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Human rights
Conflict & fragility
Conflict prevention and transformation
Material relief assistance
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Conflict prevention
01.07.2014 - 30.09.2015
CHF 1'425'000

The SDC is providing financial support of CHF 1.4 million to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a non-governmental organisation. The NRC is working to ensure the protection and basic provisioning of the displaced civil population of Iraq. The SDC’s support has been earmarked for the period 1.7.2014–30.9.2015.

Precarious situation in Baghdad for internally displaced persons

The wave of displacement within Iraq began with the outbreak of an armed conflict between the Shi’ite central government and parts of the Sunni population in December 2013. The Sunni population feels it has been neglected by the Iraqi government. The UN has estimated that some 1.4 million people are now displaced as a result of the conflict, including more than 230,000 Syrian refugees who have sought sanctuary in the Kurdish part of Iraq.

Many of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled to Baghdad. The situation for these refugees in the Iraqi capital is particularly precarious, as they are often perceived to be members of the armed groups fighting against the central government.

Community centres, strengthening actors, media presence

The NRC works on behalf of internally displaced persons in Iraq. The commitment of this international non-governmental organisation (INGO) includes:

  • Implementing targeted activities in community centres
  • Expanding the scope of action of local actors
  • Raising awareness of the plight of these refugees in the media

Targeted activities in community centres

The NRC has set up a community centre in each of the two secure districts of Baghdad, namely Al-Rasheed and Al-Mansour. In these centres the refugees receive the basic provisions they need to survive. They can also obtain advice and participate in activities, the aim being to help them overcome the traumatic experiences they have lived through. For younger refugees there are a number of education offers in the areas of literacy, computing, and English.

Strengthening the capacity to act of local actors

The NRC imparts in-depth knowledge to around 100 employees of 20 local NGOs in the sphere of advocacy for internally displaced persons. Town hall meetings bring together government representatives, aid recipients, local NGOs, and advisers from different districts of Baghdad. Internally displaced persons can use these occasions to highlight their situation and explain their needs.

Raising awareness of the plight of refugees in the media

The NRC is working to make the situation of internally displaced persons more visible in the media. The NGO intends to raise awareness about this issue among more than 100 local media representatives, including through workshops in community centres where the media professionals can meet internally displaced persons.

Deterioration in conditions for aid organisations

In January 2014, the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now prefers to be known simply as the Islamic State (IS), exploited the unrest in Iraq for its own interests, capturing the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. IS also controls parts of eastern Syria.

In June 2014 the group joined forces with other armed groups to seize control of the city of Mosul, which is home to around two million people. These armed groups have used Mosul as a base to strengthen their control of further regions in northern Iraq. Here they have treated ethnic and religious minorities in particular with extreme brutality. Many of the refugees have been displaced on multiple occasions, and are difficult for aid organisations to reach. Thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has described this wave of displacement as the greatest since the end of the civil war in 2008.

Protection, food, clothing, and education for displaced children

The NRC’s project supplements the project of Save the Children Switzerland. The latter organisation works with its partners in the provinces of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah in north-eastern Iraq to assist 40,000 internally displaced persons, around half of whom are children. Aid is also to be extended to the province of Salah al-Din if the security situation allows it. The SDC is a partner of Save the Children Switzerland. It is supporting the work of this organisation in Iraq to the tune of CHF 1.3 million for the period 1.7.2014–30.9.2015.

The objectives of Save the Children Switzerland in Iraq include:

  • Providing nutrition and other basic goods necessary for survival to displaced children and their families
  • Offering psycho-social services for children and young people
  • Making educational opportunities available