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Mutter mit Kindern vor ihrem Zelt im Irak

We are here in Iraq

Over the past decades in Iraq, conflict, political upheavals, and insecurity were never far away. After the overthrow of the ruling regime in 2003, both Federal and Kurdistan Iraq had room – via trial and error- for peace and development. But the rise of ISIS in 2014 sent the country back into a state of fear and violence, as millions of people were forced to flee their homes.

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Dealing with the legacy of dictatorship and war

people are internally displaced in Iraq
years ago, all territory controlled by ISIS in Iraq was liberated
homes were destroyed by ISIS

returning to cities in ruin

The long and complex path to economic and societal recovery

The struggle against ISIS has had far-reaching consequences. The damage to cities and infrastructure is huge. The city of Mosul has been destroyed almost in its entirety. Moreover, the psychological damage suffered by the people who lived under the Caliphate’s reign of terror is also immense.

ZOA has been working in Iraq since 2014, initially in the north where people were fleeing from ISIS. Over the past two years, millions have returned to their homes. We support them with programmes in four different sectors; shelter, peacebuilding - including psycho-social support, livelihoods assistance and education. We focus on vulnerable groups like children and youth, as well as women and girls who have been the victims of sexual violence. We also help families that lived under ISIS with shelter and basic provisions. Our working areas are Anbar governate, Ninewah governate, and Bagdad governate.

An impression of ZOA's work in Iraq

Rebuilding homes and neighbourhoods

Scarcity of housing prevents people from returning home because it is not possible to live safely without a house. Our work in this area encompasses the restoration of water supplies and infrastructure. We work together with groups of volunteers, who give the rebuilding of society a major boost. They do not only help restore infrastructure; they also do things like organise events for children. Moreover, these groups serve as an opening for conversations about cooperation, the processing of traumas, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. We also get the local authorities involved in this process.

The impact of ZOA's work in Iraq in 2021

With a team of 32 staff members, we supported 7,748 people in rebuilding their lives.

people participated activities to rebuild mutual trust
of our budget was spent on recovery
people benefitted from our support to restart businesses or farms

Livelihoods: helping families to earn a living for themselves

In recent years, Iraq’s economy has suffered a total collapse. Many people had to use up all their savings and sell all their possessions just to survive. ZOA focuses on rebuilding the agricultural sector and supporting small businesses. Iraq’s agricultural sector needs supplies and training. We focus on improving food production and developing the value chain. In this way, we reduce dependence on imported food. We offer small-business owners training in entrepreneurship and technical skills. We also give special attention to young people. Many of them had to stop school as teenagers out of necessity, and they have already faced loss, fear, and terrible violence. We do not want to regard them as a “lost generation.” That is why we do our best to help them find work and take their place in society.

Feeling safe again

We also work in various ways on the psychosocial component of recovery. We use a holistic, family-friendly approach in all our activities. Being safe and feeling safe are two separate things. That is why we establish “child-friendly spaces.” These are place where children and their parents can receive time and attention to aid their recovery. Children can play with others their own age. They have the freedom to just be children for a while. We also offer trauma counselling to the children, and we help their parents as they guide them. We work with specialised staff in “safe spaces”. We refer the children to medical specialists as needed.

Children in Iraq

working together

Donors and partners

Governments and multilateral organizations provide the majority of external funding contributions to ZOA Iraq’s humanitarian emergency responses, either directly or through consortia. ZOA takes a hybrid approach for a diversified implementation strategy, consisting of direct implementation, working in consortia with both international and national NGOs, and working with and through local implementing partners.

Our donors include UNOCHA, UNESCO, UNWOMEN, , European Commission Humanitarian Aid, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foundation EO Metterdaad, Hofsteestichting and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the United States. We partner with a.o. Al Rafidain Peace Organization, Christian Aid Program North Iraq (CAPNI), Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF), Engineering Association for Development & Environment (EADE), Emma Organization for Human Development, Iraqi Institute for Development (IID), Zakho Small Villages Project (ZSVP).

Zafira in Iraq

Zafira from Sinjar, Iraq

ISIS destroyed our lives. We couldn’t take anything with us when we fled. Life here is very different from what it used to be. We live with 13 families in one house without windows or heating.