Country Programs

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.

Situation overview

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 8 February 2021

Funding partners include:

  • ACT Alliance
  • ACT Church of Sweden
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELCB)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
  • German National Committee (GNC)
  • Iraq Humanitarian Fund (IHF)
  • Kerk in Actie
  • The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF)

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
  • Sheyaw Organization

More Information

Fact Sheet 2019

COVID-19: LWF response in Iraq

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