Canadian international assistance in Iraq

Iraq has been directly affected by the crisis in Syria and the instability perpetrated by Daesh, whose campaign of violence has resulted in the internal displacement of more than 4.5 million Iraqis since the beginning of the conflict. Nearly one third of those previously displaced have since returned to their communities often to find their homes destroyed.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have also fled the violence and sought refuge in Iraq. Over 10 million Iraqis, or one third of the country’s population, are now in need of assistance.

Iraq has one of largest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world, and the scale of the problem has surpassed the ability of local governments and community organizations to meet the needs.

This population shift is overstretching health, education and social protection services and is placing a severe strain on the local economy. Standards of living have deteriorated and a noticeable segment of the population is now living in poverty.

Canada’s response to the crisis has focused on immediate humanitarian assistance and longer-term development aid to help those most in need. As well, Canada is contributing to an improvement in security and stability,  by helping address some of the underlying causes of the crisis. Canada’s bilateral development assistance program in Iraq aims to increase the resilience of communities and government institutions, improve access to government services, and support better governance.  

Programming in Iraq is grounded in Canada’s strategy for the Middle East  and countering Daesh. The objective is to help those in the region most affected by violence. Canada aims to ease the burden on host communities and to help refugees, IDPs and others. It is helping to develop the capacity of local administrations to deliver services, create improved conditions for employment, and lay the foundations for stability and prosperity.

As part of its Strategy, Canada is providing $150 million in humanitarian assistance funding over three years through trusted partners in the UN, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations. These Canadian partners are providing life-saving assistance to crisis-affected people across Iraq including, food, water, shelter, healthcare, education and protection services – including from sexual and gender-based violence.

Our international development assistance

Search the Project Browser to see what Canada is doing to support development in Iraq

In the beginning of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's new strategy to address the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, including further increases in funding over the next three years to Canada's security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance programs.

Complementing our humanitarian assistance, development assistance will help to improve access to basic services (e.g. water) and promote economic growth. For example, technical vocational education and training is aligned with the needs of the local labour market. These efforts will help strengthen the resilience of communities and government institutions. They will also enhance livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and youth.

Supporting local government

Canada supports more decentralized and capable local governments that are better equipped to provide basic services for all people living in Iraq, including IDPs and refugees.

The Government of Canada believes that the solution to the Iraq crisis must be, first and foremost, political. Through a project implemented by the Institute on Governance (IOG), Canada is committed to providing support for improved governance in Iraq.

The Fiscal Decentralization and Resiliency-Building for Iraq project supports a federal and democratic Iraq by working with the different levels of government to define their fiscal roles, responsibilities and accountabilities in line with the Iraqi constitution.

Key anticipated results

Canada’s support focuses on ensuring resilient Iraqi communities are able to provide improved access to basic services such as clean drinking water for all children, including refugees and IDPs.

Improved access to water

An example of Canada’s efforts to improve community water infrastructure is the community of Khanke in northern Iraq, which is hosting over 18,000 IDPs. One of the major challenges for local authorities is ensuring access to clean drinking water. Until recently, Khanke was only able to supply water to local communities and its IDP camp for two hours, three days per week. Last year, in partnership with World Vision, Canada successfully helped rehabilitate and improve Khanke’s water distribution and storage network.

Key anticipated results

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