As of this fall, War Child Canada will once again be operating programs in Iraq. War Child Canada worked in Iraq from 2001-2007 and, after receiving funding from the U.S. Department of State, will begin operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, with programs in Erbil and Kirkuk focusing on women’s economic development and education.

Thousands Flee ISIS, Settle in Iraqi Kurdistan

Since 2014, millions of Iraqi families have escaped the conflict in northern Iraq for the relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan. Fleeing untold brutality, families are opting for a life of displacement over the violence of life under ISIS. Unfortunately, the massive influx of families into Iraqi Kurdistan is placing severe pressure on the host communities. Aid groups are stretching to meet the incredible need, and local economies are struggling to cope.

Currently there are 3.4 million people in Iraqi Kurdistan in need of economic assistance. By the end of 2016 that number is expected to rise significantly. As is the reality in conflict zones around the world, it is women and girls who are bearing the brunt of this crisis.

Economic Livelihood Programming for Displaced Families in Iraqi Kurdistan

As violence persists, families are losing male heads of household, and women are being thrust into the role of provider. But in many areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, job opportunities for local women make up only 9% of the market. For displaced women in these communities, there are even fewer opportunities to make a living and provide for their families.

War Child Canada is in the process of launching a multi-year project that will target thousands of vulnerable women, girls and their communities in Iraqi Kurdistan. By modifying existing programming that has been successfully introduced to communities in Afghanistan, War Child Canada will address the lack of available economic livelihood support for women and girls.

Programming will include comprehensive market assessments, provision of vocational and life skills training for displaced women, and early childhood education and psycho-social support for their children. In addition, War Child will provide micro-finance support and ongoing business coaching to program graduates, in order to ensure program success and sustainability.