Iraq: United Nations and Humanitarian Aid Organizations
Iraq: United Nations and Humanitarian
Updated July 18, 2008
Thomas Coipuram, Jr.
Information Research Specialist
Knowledge Services Group
Iraq: United Nations and
Humanitarian Aid Organizations
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003
and a permanent (four-year) Iraqi government is now running the day-to-day
operations of the country. However, coalition forces continue to combat insurgents
and are attempting to improve the security situation in Iraq. According to the
Department of Defense, since early 2007 overall violence is down as much as 80%,
as a result of the Administration’s “troop surge” strategy.
Elections were held in Iraq for a transitional National Assembly on January 30,
2005, and a permanent constitution was adopted on October 15, 2005. On December
15, 2005, elections were held for a permanent (four-year) national assembly, and
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was named and won approval of a 37-member
cabinet on May 20, 2006. According to U.S. officials, the Iraqi government needs
to increasingly focus on provision of public services, which is a growing source of
public complaint, and on achieving political reconciliation among the relevant parties
This report provides an annotated list of U.N. agencies, key U.S. government
agencies, and a sample list of major international and U.S.-based aid organizations
that are providing humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Internet links to the U.N. agencies
and humanitarian aid organizations are also provided. For detailed discussion on
humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq, see CRS Report RL31833, Iraq:
Reconstruction Assistance, by Curt Tarnoff; CRS Report RL31339, Iraq:
Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Ken Katzman; CRS Report RS21968,
Iraq: Government Formation and Benchmarks, by Ken Katzman; CRS Report
RL33936, Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening
Humanitarian Crisis?, by Rhoda Margesson, Andorra Bruno, and Jeremy M. Sharp;
and CRS Report RL32105, Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Stabilization and
Reconstruction, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Catherine Marie Dale.
This report will be updated as events warrant.
U.N. Agencies in Iraq...............................................1
Key U.S. Government Agencies......................................4
Selected Major International and Nongovernmental Organizations — Iraq.....6
Selected U.S.-Based Humanitarian Aid Organizations — Iraq...............7
Iraq: United Nations and
Humanitarian Aid Organizations
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)1 overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003
and a permanent (4 year) Iraqi government is now running the day-to-day operations
of the country. On January 30, 2005, elections were held in Iraq for a transitional
National Assembly and a permanent constitution was adopted on October 15, 2005.
On December 15, 2005, elections were held for a permanent (4 year) national
assembly, and on May 20, 2006, Prime Minister designate Nouri al-Maliki was
named and won approval of a 37-member cabinet.2 However, even with some
relative success recently as a result of additional U.S. forces (“troop surge”) to help
stabilize Baghdad, coalition forces continue to combat insurgents and are attempting3
to improve the security situation in Iraq. Also, the current refugee crisis and
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq have become another major challenge for
the Iraqi government and its neighboring countries. It is estimated that there may be
and approximately 2 million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself.
This report provides an annotated list of U.N. agencies, international
organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), key U.S. government
agencies, and a sample list of major international and U.S.-based aid organizations
that are providing humanitarian assistance to Iraq.
U.N. Agencies in Iraq
Following is a list of U.N. agencies currently providing humanitarian assistance
to Iraq. Internet addresses of the U.N. agencies as well as links to their websites on
Iraq (if available) are provided.
1 Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 19, 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s
regime. The regime fell on April 9, 2003.
2 See CRS Report RS21968, Iraq: Government Formation and Benchmarks, by Kenneth
3 See CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth
4 See CRS Report RL33936, Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening
Humanitarian Crisis?, by Rhoda Margesson, Andorra Bruno, and Jeremy M. Sharp.
U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
[ h ttp://www.uniraq.org/ ]
The UNAMI was mandated by the U.N. Security Council Resolution 15005 on
August 14, 2003, as a mission to oversee the U.N. Oil for Food program handover
on November 21, 2003. Currently, this mission helps direct the United Nations’
future role and the various humanitarian and reconstruction programs in Iraq, and this
site is a Web portal for U.N. agencies and NGOs working in Iraq.
U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in Iraq
[ h ttp://ochaonline.un.org/ Default.aspx ? t abid=1768]
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is a stand-by fund established
by the United Nations to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to
those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts, including Iraq.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
[ h ttp://www.unhcr.org/ country/irq.html]
The agency’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of
refugees, and to coordinate efforts to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems
U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq
[ http://www.iq.undp.org/ ]
UNDP [http://www.undp.org/] is the United Nations’ global development
network, helping countries build solutions to the challenges of democratic
governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and
environment, information and communications technology, and HIV/AIDS. The
United Nations Development Programme has been engaged in Iraq since 1976.
World Food Programme (WFP) Country Involvement — Iraq
[ h ttp://www.wfp.org/ country_brief /index country.asp? country=368]
The WFP [http://www.wfp.org/] was set up in 1963 and is the U.N. agency that
combats global hunger and supports economic and social development in countries
World Health Organization (WHO) Iraq Country Page
WHO [http://www.who.int/en/] is the United Nations’ specialized agency for
5 For full text, see
[http://daccessdds.un.org/ doc /UNDOC/GEN/N03/ 467/78/PDF/N0346778.pdf ?OpenElem
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) [http://www.unicef.org/] is an
advocate for the protection of children’s rights and is tasked to help children living
in poverty, reduce childhood death and illness in developing countries, and protect
children in the midst of war and natural disasters.
U.N. E-MINE Electronic Mine Information Network — Iraq Update
[ h ttp://www.mineaction.org/ country.asp? c=14]
Following the invasion in 2003, a National Mine Action Authority (NMAA)
was established in Baghdad, with regional mine action centers (RMAC) in Erbil in
the north and in Basra in the south. Landmine Monitor reports, Mine Action projects
and related documents concerning Iraq are available at this site.
U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP)
[ h ttp://www.unep.org/ ]
The UNEP works to promote the future of the earth’s environment. Its activities
cover a wide range of environmental issues, including the promotion of
environmental science and information and dealing with environmental disasters and
emergencies. The UNEP in 2005 issued a report, Assessment of Environmental ‘Hot
Spots’ in Iraq, concerning highly polluted sites in Iraq.6
The following two U.N. resources and two independent organizations provide
background information and major documents pertaining to Iraq, and current news
and information concerning the U.N.’s and the humanitarian community’s role in
[ h ttp://www.reliefweb.int/rw/dbc.nsf/doc104? OpenFo rm&rc=3&cc=irq]
This ReliefWeb Iraq page contains the latest major documents and background
information on humanitarian issues pertaining to Iraq.
ReliefWeb [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/dbc.nsf/doc100?openForm] is a project
of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
and serves the information needs of the humanitarian community.
U.N. News Centre: Iraq
[http://www.un. o r g/ apps/news/infocusRel .asp? i nfocusID=50&Body=Iraq&Body1=]
The Iraq page provides current news stories and information on the United
Nations’ role and work in Iraq.
6 U.N. Environment Programme, Assessment of Environmental ‘Hot Spots’ in Iraq, 2005.
Available online at [http://new.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID
=457&ArticleID=5023&l=en]. See also the 2003 UNEP report, Desk Study on the
Environment in Iraq. Available online at [http://www.unep.org/pdf/iraq_ds_lowres.pdf].
The U.N. News Centre [http://www.un.org/News/] is a U.N. news service that
provides the latest daily news covering the United Nations, as well as links to other
U.N. news resources.
NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI)
[ h ttp://www.ncciraq.org/ ]
The NCCI is an independent initiative launched by a group of 14 NGOs in
Baghdad in April 2003 to promote information sharing and coordination among
NGOs and to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian action in Iraq at a national
level. The NCCI is currently comprised of a network of about 80 International NGOs
and 200 Iraqi NGOs.
Key U.S. Government Agencies
Following is a list of key U.S. government agencies that are currently involved
in providing humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Internet addresses of these agencies as
well as links to their websites on Iraq (if available) are provided.
U.S. Embassy in Iraq
This website provides current information for Iraq, which includes “Key
Embassy Links” and other useful information concerning Iraq.
Office of International Information Programs (IIP)
[ h ttp://www.america.gov/]
The IIP, part of the Department of State, is the principal international
communications service for the State Department.
See “Middle East & North Africa” for latest news, including articles and fact
sheets concerning Iraq.
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
[ http://www.state.gov/g/ prm/]
The PRM Bureau of the Department of State coordinates U.S. international
population policy and promotes its goals through bilateral and multilateral
cooperation. It works closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development,
which administers U.S. international population programs. PRM also administers
and monitors U.S. contributions to international and nongovernmental organizations
to assist and protect refugees abroad. Current activities in Iraq are profiled in
Agency for International Development (USAID)
Assistance for Iraq
USAID is an independent federal government agency responsible for providing
economic and humanitarian assistance around the globe. Information is provided on
all USAID assistance programs by country and region. The Iraq pages focus on
reconstruction and aid programs.
USAID’s Iraq Community Action Program (CAP)
The Iraq CAP is a community-led-development and reconstruction program
whose main objective is to directly engage the Iraqis in rebuilding the country. Its
goals include democracy building at the grassroots level, restoration of basic services,
economic stabilization, youth employment, conflict resolution, and reconciliation.
USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
[ http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/updates/index .html]
The OFDA focuses on disaster prevention, preparedness, and delivery of
disaster relief. This site provides weekly updates of humanitarian and reconstruction
Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance
[ h ttp://www.coe-dmha.org/ HAR Iraq.cfm]
The COE-DMHA, called COE for short, issues the Iraq Humanitarian
Assistance Report every week, which provides an overview of the current
humanitarian situation in Iraq as well as in-country humanitarian assistance
information by region and by neighboring countries’ humanitarian activities and
The COE [http://www.coe-dmha.org/] is a small U.S. Department of Defense
organization whose focus is to improve civil-military coordination internationally,
particularly for humanitarian assistance, disaster management, and peacekeeping.
Department of Agriculture
[ h ttp://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/iraq/iraq.asp]
United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
page, Rebuilding Agriculture and Food Security in Iraq, describes the work of FAS
personnel on provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in Iraq.
Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
[http://www.ustreas.gov/offi ces/enforcem ent/ofac/index .html]
The OFAC of the U.S. Department of the Treasury administers and enforces
economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security
goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers,
and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. The OFAC also issues licenses for American NGOs planning to provide
humanitarian assistance independently to the Iraqi people.
See OFAC’s Sanctions Program and Country Summaries — Iraq Sanctions:
[http://www.ustreas.gov/offi ces/enforcem ent/ofac/ programs/iraq/iraq.shtml]
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA) Middle East South Asia
The mission of the MSA Division is to provide policy oversight, guidance,
planning, coordination, and direction for the execution of security cooperation
programs. Programs include sale, lease, commercial contracts and drawdown of
defense articles and services to foreign governments, including Iraq.
Selected Major International and
Nongovernmental Organizations — Iraq
Following is a list of major international aid organizations that may possibly
provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Internet addresses of the humanitarian aid
organizations as well as links to their websites on Iraq (if available) are provided.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) — Iraq
Current information on Iraq: [http://hrw.org/doc/?t=mideast&c=iraq]
HRW Publications on Iraq: [http://hrw.org/doc/?t=mideast_pub&c=iraq]
Background on War in Iraq: [http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/iraq/]
HRW World Report 2007 (Iraq)
HRW [http://www.hrw.org/] is an NGO dedicated to protecting the human
rights of people around the world.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq
[ h ttp://www.icrc.org/ W eb/eng/ siteeng0.nsf/iwpList74/
The ICRC [http://www.icrc.org/], established in 1863, is an impartial, neutral,
and independent international organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission
is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to
provide them with assistance.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) —
Where We Work: Iraq
[ h ttp://www.ifrc.org/ where/country/cn6.asp? countryid=87]
The IFRC [http://www.ifrc.org/] is the world’s largest humanitarian
organization, and its mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by
mobilizing the power of humanity.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) — Iraq
[ http://www.iom.int/jahia/J ahia/pid/423]
The IOM [http://www.iom.int/jahia/jsp/index.jsp] is the leading
intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with
governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners. The IOM was
established in 1951and currently has 120 member states and offices in more than 100
Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS)
[ h ttp://www.ifrc.org/ cgi/pdf_profile.pl? i qprofile.pdf]
The IRCS, founded in 1932, works closely with the ministries of health,
education, foreign affairs, communication, and industry in relief and emergency
Oxfam International — Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq, July 2007,
[ h tt p : / / w w w .ox fam.org/ en/policy/ briefingpapers/bp105_humanitarian_challenge_i
Oxfam International [http://www.oxfam.org/] is a confederation of 12
organizations working together in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions
to poverty, suffering, and injustice.
Refugees International — Iraq
[ h ttp://www.refintl.org/ content/country/detail/2939/]
Refugees International [http://www.refintl.org/] provides humanitarian
assistance and protection for displaced people around the world and works to end the
conditions that create displacement.
Humanitarian Aid Organizations — Iraq
Following is a selected list of U.S.-based aid organizations that may possibly
provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Internet addresses of the aid organizations
as well as links to their Web pages on Iraq (if available) are provided.
[ http://www.interaction.org/ ]
InterAction, formed in 1984, is the largest coalition of U.S.-based international
nongovernmental aid organizations (NGOs) with more than 165 members who work
in developing countries, including Iraq.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): Learn About Iraq
The AFSC [http://www.afsc.org/] is a Quaker organization that includes people
of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian
Church World Service (CWS): Response to Iraq Crisis
[ h ttp://www.churchworldservice.org/ news/Iraq/index .html]
CWS is the relief, development, and refugee assistance ministry of 35
Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations in the United States. CWS works
worldwide to meet human needs and foster self-reliance.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR): — Iraq (current and historical reports prior
to the war search for “Iraq” in the search box)
PHR [http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/] promotes health by protecting
human rights. Using medical and scientific methods, PHR investigates and exposes
violations of human rights worldwide and works to stop them.
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI): Iraq: World Refugee
Survey 2007 Country Report
[ h ttp://www.refugees.org/ countryreports.aspx ? id=2002]
USCRI [http://www.refugees.org/] defends the rights and calls for adequate
protection and assistance of all uprooted people, including refugees, asylum seekers,
World Resources Institute (WRI): Environmental profiles for Iraq and other
Middle Eastern Countries
[ h ttp://pubs.wri.org/ pubs_content_tex t .cfm? C ontentID=2865]
WRI [http://www.wri.org/] is an environmental think tank that provides
information, ideas, and solutions to global environmental problems and finds
practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives.
World Vision International — Iraq Refugee Crisis
[http://www .wvi .org/ wvi / w vi web.nsf/ s ect i on/ 2D3F471B917A649F8825738C007
World Vision [http://www.wvi.org/wvi/wviweb.nsf] is an international
Christian aid and development organization that promotes the well-being of all
people, especially children, in countries around the world.