Displaced persons, particularly those in protracted displacement, including families who are unable to return due to tribal conflict, security restrictions, or perceived affiliation with armed groups, as well as people who have returned to areas of origin tend to be among the most vulnerable to protection risks.

Despite efforts by government, local, and international stakeholders, there are reports of child labor, sexual exploitation, organ removal and the forcible recruitment of child soldiers in Iraq. Although the official number of victims of trafficking (VoTs) remains low, there is generally low reporting on Trafficking in Persons and limited services available. This highlights the need to strengthen reporting through training, awareness and coordination.

IOM Iraq maintains strong relationships with key actors including government authorities, such as law enforcement agencies, judiciary and civil society organizations and foreign embassies of those nationals most at risk of human trafficking. IOM Iraq draws upon IOM’s regional and global expertise for technical advice and guidance on best-practice standards.

The main objective of the Protection Unit is to address protection and counter-trafficking concerns through a mixed-programme approach, taking into consideration and respecting human rights, through the prevention, technical cooperation with communities, government and civil society, and direct assistance.


What We Do

The Protection Unit continues to utilize global and Iraq-specific tools and resources to ensure appropriate and effective programming through four essential pillars:

Safety and Dignity

The Unit prioritizes the delivery of assistance and the provision of services in ways that are safe, context and culturally appropriate and abiding to the “do no harm” principle.

Meaningful Access

Providing support regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnic belonging, nationality, disability, etc.


Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse is a high priority for IOM Iraq, as well as ensuring accountability of local stakeholders and government to lessen protection and trafficking concerns. Accountability is not only considered through service provision but also through active participation and encouragement of marginalized communities to voice their concerns.

Participation and Empowerment

Women, children and other vulnerable persons are encouraged to actively participate in IOM’s protection activities. Community participation and empowerment are key to contribute to community protection, longer-term solutions and sustainability.



IOM delivers integrated protection and counter-trafficking services to reconcile existing gaps within and outside the crisis-response. This includes:

  • Service provision and case management of vulnerable persons, particularly for VoTs;
  • Conduct safe identification and monitoring of protection risks across different areas of IOM Iraq’s thematic programming;
  • Protection mainstreaming of IOM programming through trainings, monitoring and coordination;
  • Raise awareness and increase knowledge on protection issues;
  • Train first responders to identify and respond to urgent protection concerns;
  • Provide crisis-specific and, at times, life-saving interventions for affected and at-risk individuals.


The Unit covers all of Iraq, relying on the main offices in Baghdad, Erbil and Basra and sub-offices in Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah.


Key Beneficiaries
  • Displaced persons
  • Returnees
  • Vulnerable foreign migrants
  • Victims of trafficking (VoTs)


Government of Iraq (GoI), including the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) and the Counter-Trafficking Committee of the Government of Iraq; Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Ministry of Interior (MoI), Department for Combatting Violence against Women (DCVAW); MoLSA Counter-Trafficking Committees in Kurdistan; UNHCR, UNICEF, UNFPA and implementing partners; the IASC National Protection Cluster and sub-working groups, and a number of embassies in Iraq. US Government (OFDA, DRL).