Where We Work - Iraq

Emergency Update: Thousands of Families Flee Fresh Attack on Iraqi Villages.

How You Can Help

Help us protect vulnerable children affected by the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

More than 1 million people are internally displaced in northern and central Iraq, including half a million children.

As this crisis spreads, families are seeking safety in parks, schools and mosques. Families are running out of money, forcing them out on the streets in the extreme heat. Save the Children is setting up safe spaces for children in camps and in Mosul where they will receive emotional support, education and protection services.

We Came Here Last Year as Tourists

Read a families nightmare, as they are forced to flee from the raging conflict in Iraq.

Iraqi Children's Relief Fund

Help provide emergency relief and support for displaced Iraqi children fleeing from violence.

Learn About Our Ongoing Programs In Iraq

Challenges for Children

Iraq remains among the humanitarian emergencies in the world. Children continue to suffer from the psychological trauma of war and conflict, and access to education and development opportunities has been severely constrained.

As an example, in the northern part of Iraq 15 schools host operations for 43 separate institutions — that is, most schools serve three to four shifts of students per day, for a few hours at a time. Besides overcrowding, these schools lack a clean water supply, sanitation and garbage disposal systems — as do many of the communities in which the schools are based.

In the south of the country, including Basra, the situation is more acute. In particular, access to fresh water remains a key issue due to the use of a brackish water supply in Basra. Exacerbating the situation, temperatures can reach 140 F during the summer. Because of the salty residue, the water supply needs to go through a complex process of desalinization and purification, which is costly, time consuming and not always effective. It remains another obstacle for children in obtaining a quality education and having a healthy childhood.

Child Protection and Education

The Child Protection Program began operations in early 2009, after completing the training of 15 education supervisors from Sulaimaniyah, Khalar and Khanaqeen and the training of 225 teachers of fifteen basic schools (five schools from each of these districts) in the most vulnerable areas of each district. The program focuses on improving Iraqi children's psychosocial skills in the classroom and at home.

In-school Psychosocial Activities

Save the Children has continued to work in 15 schools in Sulaimaniyah, Khanaqeen and Khalar governorates, reaching 2,350 children through psychosocial activities. Save the Children has organized Child Wellbeing Days in each of the 15 schools, where approximately 10,000 children (almost half of them girls) participated. The activities include structured psychosocial activities, traditional games and cultural activities that helped enhance understanding and relationships among and between peers and teachers, and helped establish a sense of self-respect and increased self-esteem among children. Save the Children also renovated and resourced five safe spaces in the schools (three in Khanaqeen and two in Kalar).

Out of School Psychosocial Activities

In order to increase capacity at local/community level for child protection, Save the Children has partnered with six local NGOs to establish out of school safe spaces at nine different locations in Khalar, Khanaqeen and Sulaimaniyah The safe spaces are equipped with toys for the 289 children currently attending them. Save the Children volunteers hold community meetings with parents of those children who are attending the safe spaces in an effort to encourage the parents to play a role and be involved in child protection activities. Save the Children also provides a two-day protection/psychosocial/safe spaces training for staff and partners.

Community Child Rights and Raising Awareness for Child Protection

In partnership with the Iraqi Child Rights Network (ICRN), Save the Children printed 8,000 booklets and 8,000 posters in Arabic and Kurdish to raise awareness on child rights, child protection and positive discipline for parents, teachers and community leaders.

Save the Children has supported the expansion of ICRN which now reaches 17 of the 18 governorates across Iraq and includes 25 new NGOs, bringing the total number of ICRN members to 56 across the 17 governorates. This creates an opportunity for Save the Children in Iraq to accelerate the program expansion to the south and center of Iraq through implementing joint activities with ICRN, especially on awareness raising and advocacy at the national level.

Iraq Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 31,858,481
  • Infant Death Rate: 38 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 71 years
  • Poverty Rate: 2.8%
  • Underweight Children: 7.1%
  • Human Development Rank: 131
  • Maternal Death Risk: 63 deaths/100,000 live births
  • Girls' Education: 8 years
  • Clean Water Access: 79%


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program

Last Updated June 2014