• IOM Iraq Public Info

Salah-al Din, 6 June: In the small town of Shirqat in the Governorate of Salah al-Din in Iraq, 10-year-old Mina clutches her school notebook, her bright eyes clouded with worry. A shadow of fear crept into her voice as she recounts the words of her teachers: "They said that if I didn't have an ID, my education would probably stop". The identity card in question is a simple civil document that many take for granted, and yet hold the key to Mina's future.

Unfortunately, Mina's challenges go far beyond the threat of losing her education. The lack of civil and identity documentation limits her access to basic public and social services such as health care, the ability to secure a job, or to even get married in the future.

Mina (centre) enjoys her time at school with her classmates. Photo: ©IOM 2024/Anmar Qusay

Mina's situation is not unique. Across Iraq, many children born between 2014 and 2017, during the Daesh conflict, were not registered, and never receiving a government birth certificate that would enable them to obtain other crucial civil documents. Many others lost or damaged their civil or identity documents during conflict or displacement, while some families simply cannot access or afford the process to replace them.

Such was the case for Salma's three children, who should have been going to the same school as Mina but couldn’t without identity documents.

"Our situation was very difficult,” shares Salma. “My children were jealous of the other students who could go to school," she adds as she recalls the hardships the family endured while trying to enroll all children.

At home, Salma (centre) dedicates time to help her daughters with their homework. Photo: ©IOM 2024/Anmar Qusay

Realizing the urgency of the situation in Salah al-Din, IOM’s legal team worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Education’s local directorate to find an interim solution: children like Mina and Salma’s daughters would be allowed to continue their studies in the next school year without the prerequisite civil IDs. Meanwhile, their families will continue to process to obtain the necessary documents for their children.

With IOM’s support, Salma was able to obtain unified cards for herself and her three children, secured custody of her three children, and a residency card in her name. She also started to receive social protection salary under Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

In addition to crucial advocacy efforts and cooperation with government partners, IOM Iraq’s legal assistance programme, with teams operating on the ground in six governorates, offers awareness-raising sessions, legal counselling, and legal representation to help families navigate the legal system and obtain necessary civil, identity and/or housing, land, and property documents.

Through cooperation between IOM and the Directorate of Education in Salah al-Din, 50 primary school students received civil documentation through the IOM's direct legal assistance.

IOM staff chat with students about their time at school and their plans for the future. Photo: ©IOM 2024/Anmar Qusay

Ibrahim Al-Murad, the Director of Al-Ebdaa School for Girls in Shirqat, is also acutely aware of the emotional toll it takes on children that are left out or feel left behind.

"Students who did not have their IDs often feel neglected and despondent, because they were not able to complete their studies,” he shares with IOM Iraq. “But we have been working with them to raise their morale and encourage them to keep studying on their own as well, so that they can compete with their peers," adds Al-Murad, underlining the importance of access to education, and is optimistic about the future for all undocumented children.

2024 is the third year in a row IOM has cooperated with the Ministry of Education in Salah al-Din to secure access to education for hundreds of primary-level students.

A relieved Mina plays more freely, knowing she can continue her studies. Photo: ©IOM 2024/Anmar Qusay

“When I grow up, I want to become a doctor,” says Mina. “I will open a clinic in my village and treat all the children," she adds as she plays with children from the neighborhood.

Whenever you are ready Mina, we will be there to make the first appointment at your clinic.


This assistance has become possible thanks to the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) generously supporting return and reintegration assistance for internally displaced persons  and returnees in Iraq and helping Mina and her peers access formal education and build a brighter future.

*The names were changed to protect the privacy of individuals


Read in Kurdish

SDG 4 - Quality Education
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities