International Rescue Committee (IRC)

IRC Programs in Iraq

Education

The IRC has helped 4,000 students in the cities of Erbil, Najaf and the town of Tarmiyah by reconstructing classrooms and providing informal education and recreational activities. We provide catch-up classes, information technology training and skills programs for youth. The IRC is preparing to expand activities throughout Iraq, including informal education programs with the IRC’s unique Healing Classrooms approach, which helps children recover from conflict.

Violence Against Women and Girls

In April 2009, the IRC launched an innovative new program in Kurdistan to improve essential services for women and girls exposed to violence. The program’s strategy is to train and mentor local organizations in establishing a range of services for survivors, such as healthcare, legal aid and counseling. In addition, the IRC is leading efforts to establish a referral mechanism among civil society groups for victim services in order that women and girls are aware of, and can access, the range of services and support they require. The IRC works closely with the Kurdish Regional Government to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, and advocates for improved government services and policy. The IRC also serves on the Board of the Prime Minister’s High Committee for violence against women and girls, which is the central government organ dealing with this issue, providing technical assistance and advice. The IRC will train the police and other relevant government staff so that they can better respond to the problem. This includes providing advice in how to maintain the survivor’s confidentiality, sensitive interviewing techniques, treating survivors respectfully, understanding their needs for assistance and how to make referrals to supportive services, such as shelters and women’s organizations.

Training local organizations

The IRC provides guidance and support to local Iraqi aid organizations, which is essential to the humanitarian relief effort and the rebuilding of the country. The IRC has held workshops for local groups working in different ethnic and religious communities, focusing on program design, implementation and financing.

Protection

The IRC is running Protection Assistance Centers (PACs) for internally displaced people, Iraqi refugees who have returned, refugees who sought safety in Iraq and stateless people. The PACs provide free legal advice, representation and information on their rights and entitlements in terms of land, property, employment, housing and health. The PACs also refer their clients to services that the centers do not provide. The IRC is also helping Kurds from Turkey living in the Makhmur refugee camp in northern Iraq to access services inside and outside the camp. The IRC is promoting social and recreational activities for women and youth as well as providing useful information such as basic refugee rights and safety tips for women and girls working outside the camp.