Iraq crisis FAQ: How the conflict affects children and families

by Church Resource Team on November 28, 2016

The battle is raging to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from ISIL, which has occupied the area since June 2014. After capturing village after village on the periphery, forces are fighting their way into the city’s east side. World Vision and other humanitarian agencies are providing aid for civilians fleeing the area.

Since mid-2014, the people of Iraq have been caught up in a resurgence of violence. The conflict has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation stemming from Syria’s five-year civil conflict.

Here’s what you should know about the humanitarian needs of people affected by the conflict in Iraq and the battle to retake Mosul.

Iraq conflict, Mosul fast facts:

  • 3.3 million people displaced within the country
  • 10 million people in need out of a population of 36 million
  • 20,000 people have fled the battle for Mosul since October 17
  • Up to 1 million more people expected to need humanitarian assistance in the coming months as a result of increasing conflict in and around Mosul. Affected families may be experiencing their greatest needs as winter approaches.
  • About one quarter of a million Syrian refugees are in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, creating additional strain among host communities struggling with limited resources
  • Key areas of anticipated need: clean water, sanitation, food, shelter, essential items to help face winter, healthcare, education, and emotional support

What happened in Iraq?

Two years of fighting displaced 3.3 million people within the country. About half of them have settled in camps for internally displaced people, within host communities, or in churches in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Read how Hada’s family escaped on foot through mined fields and about their life in a camp for displaced people.

Since October, the Iraqi military and other forces have moved to retake Mosul from insurgents that have held the city for two years. Civilians fleeing the area are in dire need of aid.

Right now, about 10 million Iraqis need some kind of assistance.

How has the Iraqi conflict affected children?

Children fleeing Mosul are arriving at camps petrified, struggling to express themselves, and in some cases too terrified to speak, say World Vision staff based just outside of the city.

Their physical and mental health have been badly affected by two years living under a brutal occupation and then facing landmines, snipers, and fighters when they fled.

Many children are forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs. They are out of school and vulnerable to violence and health issues due to unstable and unhygienic living conditions. Cold winter weather will threaten their health if they don’t have adequate clothing or ample heating in their shelter.


What are their greatest needs? 

People displaced by conflict typically need clean water, food, shelter, hygiene supplies, and basic household supplies like mattresses and blankets. They also will likely have a range of healthcare needs, including chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and issues associated with poverty like malnutrition, exposure, cholera, or diarrhea.

Children and adults who have experienced the unspeakable horrors of war need long-term help coping with their experiences.

“Many children have been stuck in their homes while bombings, sniper fire or chaos ruled around them. Others have witnessed the death of family members,” says Aaron Moore, World Vision’s programs manager in northern Iraq.
How is World Vision bringing hope to Iraq?

World Vision began responding to the current crisis in Iraq in August 2014. Our staff have served more than one million people in the Kurdish Region of Iraq with:
  • Access to clean drinking water
  • Health services
  • Education programs
  • Child protection services
  • Food provisions
  • Food vouchers
  • Cash (for most urgent needs)
We work with the church in Iraq, providing food vouchers to people who fled Mosul in August 2014 and are living in Christian camps. We have assisted these camps with generators and water systems. We’ve also created spaces for children to play volleyball, basketball, and on swing sets.

Some of our work focuses on the church. However, our overall aid efforts focus on helping the most vulnerable people, regardless of their religion, race, or gender.

Looking to 2017, our staff are planning to roll out economic empowerment programs to help families generate income and youth find jobs.



Explore our unique, interactive Iraq story mapYou can learn about some important places from the Bible and their relation to people and cities caught up in the current crisis in Iraq.

What is World Vision’s history in Iraq?

World Vision began working in Iraq in the 1990s. Between April 2003 and September 2004, our staff focused efforts on rehabilitating schools and rural water and sanitation systems. We also provided medical supplies to clinics and hospitals, and supported displaced families with clothing, food, hygiene kits, blankets and mattresses, and cooking sets, reaching about 598,000 people in all.

Engage your church in this disaster by hosting a Refugee Sunday.

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