Iraq's displacement crisis

One in six Iraqis is displaced. After a conflict which has now lasted as long as the First World War over two million Iraqis are in exile and a further two million are internally displaced. Most refugees are in Syria and Jordan - which hosts the largest number of refugees per capita of any country on earth. The vast majority survive with little or no assistance from the international community. Eight million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Insecurity prevents a robust response to humanitarian needs. The UN’s dependence on Coalition military forces means it is no longer perceived by the Iraqi people as neutral. The Government of Iraq lacks capacity to respond to the crisis and inflexible funding mechanisms deny adequate support for agencies which are better able to assist vulnerable communities.

A special issue of FMR – published in English and in Arabic - assesses the scale of the displacement and highlights the inadequacy of current responses. Twenty-six articles – from the UN, the governments of Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Sweden, the Red Cross, the Iraqi Red Crescent, Human Rights Watch and non-governmental agencies – offer suggestions to prevent a further escalation of the humanitarian crisis and to establish an eventual framework for the durable return of displaced Iraqis.

The issue was launched in the House of Commons, London on 19th June at an event hosted by the British-Iraq All-Party Parliamentary Group. Among those making presentations was Erika Feller, Assistant UNHCR High Commissioner for Protection.

The FMR Editors are grateful for financial support provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Islamic Relief and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement.

FMR would appreciate help to maximise impact.

If you would like to receive a hard copy for your organisation, or multiple copies for distribution to partners and policy- and decision-makers, please contact the Editors. We will need your full postal address and indication of how many copies in English and/or Arabic you require.

We encourage you to circulate or reproduce any articles in its entirety but please cite

Forced Migration Online has a browse page with a selection of web-based resources focusing on Iraq.


You may also be interested in the Refugee Studies Centre brief Iraq’s refugees – beyond 'tolerance' (النسخة العر). This policy brief considers the situation of displaced populations within Iraq's national borders and of communities of Iraqis living under difficult circumstances in a number of Middle Eastern states.

For the Forced Migration Online research guide on Iraq, please go to: