Iraq humanitarian response

The Iraq crisis has emerged as one of the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises facing the international community today. The violence resulting from the activities of the terrorist organisation Daesh, also known as ISIL, has resulted in massive population displacements within Iraq, which has rapidly increased humanitarian needs.

The UN estimates there are 10 million people inside Iraq, more than 25 per cent of the population, who need humanitarian assistance. This includes over 3.3 million Iraqis who are internally displaced, 961,000 of whom are now located in the Kurdistan Regional Government area. In addition, Iraq is hosting around 225,000 Syrian refugees, the majority also in the Kurdistan Regional Government area. About 86 per cent of displaced Iraqis are located outside of camps. The high levels of need are straining local infrastructure, services and humanitarian relief supplies.

On 18 October 2016, Australia announced a further $10 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the military operation to retake the city of Mosul from Daesh. As many as 1.5 million civilians are likely to require protection and emergency relief as the campaign continues. Australia’s funding includes:

  • $4 million to the World Food Programme for food assistance; 
  • $2 million to the United Nations Population Fund to support the reproductive health of women and girls; and
  • $4 million to deliver protection services and medical assistance.

This brings Australia’s total humanitarian response to the Iraq crisis to $70 million since June 2014. Australia also participated in airdrops of relief items to minority communities in August and November 2014.

Our funding has been delivered through United Nations agencies, international humanitarian organisations and an Australian non-government organisation to reach people in need. Australian aid is contributing towards meeting urgent needs in food, shelter, emergency supplies and medical assistance, including providing health and protection support for women and girls.


Through the United Nations appeals process, Australia’s assistance is part of a coordinated international response to the Iraq crisis. Our funding has contributed to the following results as at June 2016:

  • Approximately one million people in Iraq receive food assistance on average each month. 
  • 1.4 million Iraqi displaced people have been provided with shelter and core relief items since the conflict began.
  • Over 200,000 women have accessed health consultations, including for antenatal care and assisted deliveries. 
  • Almost 91,000 people have received legal assistance. 

More information

Last Updated: 18 October 2016
multiple UNHCR tents in desert setteing
Some of the hundreds of UNHCR tents delivered to a transit camp at Garmawa for people entering the Kurdistan Regional Government area. Photo: UNHCR / S. Baldwin