Years of conflict have taken a heavy toll on health facilities and civilians

MSF staff member Patricia changes 5-year-old Faten's bandages at the MSF's Post Op Hospital South of Mosul, Iraq.
IRAQ 2017 © Diego Ibarra Sánchez/MEMO
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Fighting and turmoil continue to threaten people’s lives and cause widespread displacement in Iraq. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began providing medical aid in Iraq in 2003 following the US-led military invasion. Iraq is now among our largest country programs, with teams providing emergency and basic health care, including psychological support for people traumatized by the recurrent violence.  

Years of conflict and instability have uprooted millions of people in Iraq and destroyed health facilities in many parts of the country. Some of those displaced have returned home to shattered communities, while others are still living in camps or taking shelter in schools, mosques, and unfinished buildings.

We have scaled up our response to meet the needs of vulnerable Iraqi communities, internally displaced people, and Syrian refugees, with teams deployed across 10 governorates in 2017. MSF offers a wide range of services—including basic health care, emergency surgeries, maternal care, mental health support, and treatment for chronic diseases.

mental health consultations in 2017
surgical interventions

We expanded operations in response to the battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in 2016 and 2017. Fighting between the Islamic State group and Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led international coalition, resulted in high numbers of civilian casualties and massive displacement. In February 2017, we deployed the first ever Mobile Unit Surgical Trailer (MUST), an operating theater on wheels designed by MSF to move quickly along shifting front lines. Last June, we opened a hospital in western Mosul to provide lifesaving trauma assistance for war-wounded patients. We also responded to the enormous need for post-operative care, providing rehabilitation and psychosocial support in Al Hamdaniya hospital, south of Mosul, from March to September 2017. Following the end of active conflict in Mosul, MSF stayed on to help repair medical facilities and provide services for people returning to the city.

Teams are providing health care to people displaced by fighting elsewhere in Iraq, including in IDP camps across Ninewa and Erbil.  

In the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees, in Dohuk governorate, MSF built a maternity clinic where women can safely deliver their babies and access care. Over the past four years, our medical staff have delivered more than 3,400 babies and provided more than 27,400 gynecological consultations. In November 2017, MSF handed over the maternity unit to the Dohuk Directorate of Health.

Years of conflict have had an impact on people’s mental health and their ability to cope with traumatic events.  MSF has teams of medical doctors, psychologists, and counselors who provide vital mental health care and support. From July to December 2017, MSF provided almost 11,000 individual mental health consultations for internally displaced people and returnees in Iraq.  

MSF began providing medical aid in Iraq in 2003 following the US-led military invasion. Iraq is now among our largest country programs.