Healthcare Clinics in Refugee and IDP Camps

 Over 30% of referrals are urgent.


Since 2014, over 3 million Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs have sought refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan to escape the fighting destroying their countries and communities. According to the International Organization for Migration, around 675,000 people are living in camps in the region, which are maintained by local authorities and international organisations. Living conditions are challenging. The supply of tented accommodation struggles to meet demand; running water and electricity are intermittent; and extreme weather often exacerbates existing problems. Summers are scorching, and freezing winters see heavy snow. The majority of illnesses amongst patients in the camps – gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections, skin infections, and respiratory conditions – are the consequence of limited hygiene and sanitary infrastructure. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) also present significant challenges.

We have therefore, since 2014, opened 7 Healthcare Clinics in the camps of Arbat (one for Syrian refugees and one for Iraqi IDPs), Ashti (one for adult patients and one for paediatric patients), Khanaqin, Qoratu, and Tazade. All are situated in the regions of Kalar and Arbat. In these clinics we provide essential healthcare services; obstetrics and gynaecology; and a vaccination programme.

When hiring local staff, we give priority to people living in the camps, as these jobs provide opportunities to improve living conditions for themselves and their families. We also train health promoters to educate people about disease prevention; to monitor health conditions among refugees; and to track the progress of patients in our facilities. At present, we employ 72 local members of staff: both medical and non-medical.

In February 2015 we transferred operational responsibility for our clinic in Khanaqin to local healthcare authorities. In June and December of 2017, we transferred operational responsibility for our clinic in Qoratu and both clinics in Arbat to local healthcare authorities. The handover is part of the government’s plan to help refugees to return to their regions and towns of origin, and to take over direct management of services that have until now been provided by NGOs. We continue to work in both Ashti camps and the camp in Tazade. In 2017, over 30% of all referrals were urgent and more than 40% of patients seen were under 14 years of age. 


Operational responsibility transferred to local healthcare authorities in December 2017.

In addition to providing basic healthcare, both clinics in Arbat (for Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs) offered gynaecological and obstetric care for women; an immunisation programme; and a nutrition/growth monitoring service for children under five years of age. These services continue, under the management of local authorities.

The Healthcare Clinic in the Arbat Syrian Refugee Camp was co-funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Healthcare Clinic in the Arbat Iraqi IDP camp was co-funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).


In June 2016, EMERGENCY began providing healthcare in the Ashti IDP camp. Our clinics here provide high-quality care for the inhabitants of the camp, the number which continues to increase. The clinics are air-conditioned and include a shaded area where patients can be examined.

Our work in both the Ashti Adult and Paediatric Healthcare Clinics continues.


Operational responsibility transferred to local healthcare authorities in February 2015.

This clinic was co-funded by the WHO.


Operational responsibility transferred to local healthcare authorities in June 2017.

In May 2015, EMERGENCY opened a clinic within the Qoratu IDP camp, in tandem with the opening of the camp itself. Qoratu was initially occupied by 50 families, but that number continued to grow rapidly with an influx of people arriving from the Kulajo area. Many of our patients were people EMERGENCY had already treated at our mobile clinic in the Salah-Aga area, and so the clinic in Qoratu enabled a degree of continuity in the care our staff were able to provide.

We also initiated a programme of Health Promotion, training volunteers from the camp to educate other residents on good health practices and sanitation; particularly in relation to dehydration and diarrhoea.


We completed construction of our Tazade Healthcare Clinic in July of 2015. The clinic provides healthcare services for the residents of the IDP camp. Raul, the architect who designed the facility, wrote about the challenges encountered during its construction, but said that he was proud to have created something which would facilitate the high-quality care EMERGENCY provides: “Quality facilities for quality healthcare; this is the idea we believe in.”

Our work in Tazade continues.

Mobile Clinic

EMERGENCY staff also operate a mobile clinic throughout the Kalar region – donated by the World Health Organisation – which enables us to provide more comprehensive care to Iraqi refugees and IDPs across the area.

Programme Data

Start of Clinical Activities: July 2014

Activities: Basic Healthcare.

National Staff: 171

Arbat Syrian Refugee Camp

Examinations: 122,941

Patients Referred to Specialists: 10,020

Beneficiaries of Health Promotion Activities: 138,099

Arbat IDPs Camp

Examinations: 96,778

Patients Referred to Specialists: 9,841

Beneficiaries of Health Promotion Activities: 94,344

Qoratu IDPs Camp

Examinations: 29,350

Patients Referred to Specialists: 1,770

Beneficiaries of Health Promotion Activities: 28,782

Mobile Clinic Examinations: 475

Tazade IDPs Camp

Examinations: 64,753

Patients Referred to Specialists: 3,709

Beneficiaries of Health Promotion Activities: 51,271

Ashti IDPs Camp

Outpatient consultations: 328,197

Referrals: 28,454

Beneficiaries of Health Promotion Activities: 391,881

(Data correct as of June 2020)

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