Projects / Campaigns

In 2014, Doctors of the World launched operations in Iraqi Kurdistan to provide healthcare for displaced people fleeing the Islamic State.

Iraq has been blighted by ongoing conflict since the early 2000’s.

However, the rise of the Islamic State in the northwest of the country in 2014 has caused considerable chaos and loss of life. Since the group gained territory across large swathes of Iraq, more than 3 million people have become internally displaced (IDPs), or have fled to border countries such as Turkey and Jordan as refugees. Almost half of those fleeing have taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, including thousands of ethnic Kurds, Yazidis and Syrians escaping the Syrian civil war. The conflict has significantly weakened the health infrastructure in the country, and over 35% of Iraqi doctors have fled the country.

3 million

IDPs in Iraq


Of Iraqi doctors have fled


Consultations provided everyday

Iraq © Olivier Papegnies

Our teams work alongside the Iraqi government to provide medical and psychological assistance to refugees and IDP populations, such as those living in Chamisku camp on the border with Turkey. We provide 250 consultations a day in Chamisku camp, and many of our team are themselves refugees who live in in the camp. We run mobile health clinic projects in the newly liberated areas around Sinjar, such as Borek village and our teams are also active in the southern governorate of Kirkuk, where we operate 4 mobile clinics.


The most essential thing is to listen to people. I often see patients three or four times and their story is usually similar to mine. I do not prescribe medication, but I try to give advice to reduce stress. I try to be positive, to say the right thing and to bring some comfort. If their condition worsens, then they see a doctor and sometimes go to the hospital.

Hairan, a Doctors of the World Psychologist, fled ISIS herself alongside her Yazidi family.

In 2016 we expanded our operations in light of the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, which resulted in the forced movement of thousands of people trying to escape the fighting between the Iraqi government and IS. We currently operate in once-small towns such as Kalata Farhahn, 12 miles from Mosul, where many have taken refuge. Many of the people we treat have experienced significant trauma, and as a result require critical psychosocial support to help them cope. Most of our patients have witnessed shocking human rights abuses, such as acts of torture, executions and enslavement.

In addition to providing individual counseling, our teams also provide group counseling sessions and psychosocial activities for children affected by the violence. We also conduct trainings for local medical and paramedical staff. Ghazwa Breassam, a mother of 2 children who fled Mosul with her family, provides consultations. “About one in ten women who come to visit us are pregnant and there are often complications with the pregnancies. Many have undergone tremendous stress due to trauma. Even though they are safe here, it’s difficult to carry a child and give birth in this environment. We provide advice on family planning and a lot of emotional support,” says Ghazwa.


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