COVID-19 update

Iraq recorded the first cases of coronavirus quite early, due to the close proximity to Iran. However, the first case of coronavirus in Duhok Iraqi Kurdistan, where LWF Iraq’s office is located, was recorded only on 19 March and in general, the number of recorded cases has remained low.

Heavy restrictions have been in place in the period late March-early May. During this period, LWF Iraq and partners have suspended activities in community centres and in the field in host communities. However, from mid-May, LWF Iraq is gradually returning to the office, resuming activities in line with Government regulations.

As LWF is responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene in the Dawdie IDP camp in the Duhok Governorate, LWF’s incentive workers have continued their activities inside the camp. Kits have been distributed door-to-door to households, thereby avoiding the risks of people gathering and transmitting the virus. Since tight restrictions on movement have been introduced and most shops and markets are closed, residents of the camp say the LWF kits have been a vital way of accessing basic prevention items.

LWF has also stepped up to respond to requests for support from other actors. Following a request from the Directorate of Health in Mosul, LWF responded by providing disinfectant and detergent, pump sprays, dry and liquid soap, as well as face masks and gloves through a local partner.

Situation overview

The humanitarian crisis in Northern Iraq, instigated by ISIS’ capture of Mosul in June 2014 has destroyed homes, infrastructures, and economies and caused displacement, violence, loss of lives and livelihoods, social tensions, strained resources, and uncertainty.

The UN issued appeals to support people needing urgent humanitarian assistance. Amongst the many international agencies, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), member of the ACT Alliance, started responding to the Iraqi crisis in August 2014 in Dohuk Governorate, which hosts the largest population of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Also Syrian refugees located in this area are being supported through LWF’s activities.

The LWF is registered as a charitable agency with the Kurdistan Regional Government since 2015 and the Federal Government of Iraq since 2018.

The humanitarian crisis in Iraq remains one of the largest and most volatile in the world. Combat against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has ended and hundreds of displaced people are returning to their homes and communities. For the first time in years, UNOCHA has recorded more returnees (3.92 million) than displaced people (1.98 million) since August 2018. Together with vulnerable host communities and refugees, to date there are about 6.65 million people in need within Iraq. More than half of them are children.

Many of these returnees have found homes, schools, and healthcare facilities destroyed or severely damaged. In many areas, the rehabilitation of basic water supply, sanitation, and other services has proven a task that may not be completed for years.

Furthermore, climate change poses an additional challenge to the already affected population of Iraq. It has resulted in prolonged heat waves, erratic precipitation, increasing temperature, increasing water scarcity, and increasing occurrence of sand and dust storms. Also natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes as well as communicable disease outbreaks have posed risks to the communities.

LWF response

The LWF has intervened in Iraq since 2014, supporting internally displaced people, host communities and Syrian refugees. It has been implementing projects in the Kurdish region of Iraq, mainly in the Dohuk governorate, and in late 2016/early 2017 LWF Iraq expanded its activities to the neighboring areas of the Nineveh Plains after its liberation from ISIS, working through local partners. Populations targeted include community members who remained and survived the ISIS occupation, IDPs who fled but are now returning to their homes and recently displaced IDPs from Mosul.

In line with the LWF World Service Strategy 2019 – 2024, LWF Iraq’s programming for 2019 has been focusing on building the resilience of IDPs, host communities, returnees, and refugees through:

  • Livelihoods: LWF increases livelihood opportunities for women and men through business rehabilitation programs and several vocational training programs, for example on beekeeping and crop production. As more and more displaced people are returning to their homes, they are finding their homes and businesses destroyed, and themselves without income.
  • Quality Services: LWF promotes safe WASH practices to facilitate access to drinkable water and hygiene, and rehabilitates WASH infrastructure which was destroyed during the conflict. WASH infrastructure works and activities such as hygiene promotion sessions are being conducted in Davudiya IDP camp, whilst the LWF focuses on garbage collection and awareness activities within several villages in the Ninewa plains.
  • Protection & Social Cohesion: LWF focuses specific attention on increasing awareness, coping capacities, and mechanisms of the population, especially targeting vulnerable women and girls. Protection activities are taking place in Davudiya IDP camp as well as in several community centers, also providing support to returnees, refugees and host communities. It is of primary importance that the different communities within Iraq are understanding each other’s perspectives to be able to cooperate well together. LWF has projects on community dialogues for communities to share their past and present experiences, to nurture social cohesion.

Child protection and gender justice aspects are mainstreamed throughout all projects, ensuring that all activities, based on multi-cultural, multi-religious community led-programing, ultimately contribute to social cohesion. LWF Iraq Program will address discrimination and exclusion and will empower women socially and economically as leaders and decision-makers in their households and communities.


LWF is a member of the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance. LWF Iraq is actively participating in the local ACT Northern Iraq Forum, having served in the role of Forum Chair from October 2016 to March 2018.

LWF has been working with several local NGOs in order to provide support where INGO access is limited or where local partners already work. As such, additional effort is put into local partner capacity building. All activities have been undertaken in close coordination with the UN actors, all humanitarian actors, the Kurdish government, and ACT Alliance members.


Updated 17 June 2020

Help us make a difference in the lives of people in need in Iraq and other places throughout the world.


ACT Appeal

Multi-Sectoral Support to IDPs, Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities Affected by the Conflict in Iraq​ - IRQ201


Funding partners include:

  • ACT Alliance
  • ACT Church of Sweden
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
  • Kerk in Actie

Our local partners:

  • Baghdad Women Association (BWA)
  • Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF)
  • CAPNI (Christian Aid Program – Nohadra Iraq)
  • Dijla Agricultural Association (DAA)
  • Humanity
  • Judy Organization for Relief and Development (JORD)
  • Rwanga