Work and Travel in Iraq
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAQ FOR TRAVELLERS
Think Iraq and you think about Saddam Hussein and the 2003 war. But Iraq has changed since then. Yes, it’s not the safest country in the world, but it’s not completely off-limits like Yemen and Afghanistan. Real adventurers can continue to visit parts of Iraq and experience what this country has to offer.
This is not the type of place to just land in, though. Travel in Iraq requires careful advance planning and prior knowledge of some of the challenges you will encounter.
Take a look at our travel guide to Iraq (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/iraq) to find out more about what awaits you.
1. Give Teenage Girls Life Skills in Iraq
Iraq has always been a conservative nation, but now women are finally getting the freedoms they deserve. Add the multiple wars into the mix and it’s easy to see why so many women don’t have the skills they need to make it in the world by themselves.
International organisations are helping women learn the life skills they need to function in the real world. They are getting the education they didn’t get in the past.
This type of work in Iraq makes a huge difference and will give them real skills they can use long after you leave the country.
2. Help Refugees in Iraq
The refugees who have been displaced due to the war against ISIS are not just those people who have left the country. As you work and travel in Iraq you’ll discover that millions have also been internally displaced within the country.
You can help refugees in Iraq by working within the camps there. Your role will always depend on the skills available at the time. You may have medical experience or you may be a translator.
These roles can be difficult to secure, however. Make sure you apply well in advance of your leaving date.
3. Work in an Orphanage in Iraq
As you would expect from a country that has experienced such devastation over the years, there are lots of children who have lost both their parents.
Work in an orphanage in Iraq. You could be doing anything from playing games with the children to teaching them English, or just helping them with their homework.
This is a great opportunity to make real friends.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR IRAQ
Before we discuss what you need to work and travel in Iraq, you need to be aware that if you travel here you will no longer be eligible for the visa-free ESTA to the United States (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/), so be aware of this before you make a plan to travel in Iraq.
In accordance with the law, all citizens require a visa to Iraq. The only exceptions are in the Middle East and Turkey. You should also be aware of the fact that the rules for Iraqi Kurdistan are different (https://us.gov.krd/en/services/visa-information/). All European Union (EU) citizens, citizens from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea can enter Iraqi Kurdistan for 30 days with a visa-on-arrival from any air or land border crossing point.
However, if you want to explore more of Iraq we recommend that you apply for a visa from an embassy (http://www.iraqiembassy.us/). Your project provider will normally offer you full visa support.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN IRAQ
Iraqi climate is similar to parts of the continental US. The spring season is pleasant and not too hot. We recommend trying to travel in Iraq in spring as you won’t have to deal with the crippling heat of summer.
Spring is the perfect time to indulge in a homestay in Iraqi Kurdistan. You’ll have the chance to meet the locals and also help them on their farms. Spring is an extremely busy time for farmers in Iraqi Kurdistan, so they’ll need all the help they can get.
The summer season brings the heat of the desert and we recommend avoiding outdoor projects at this time of year. It’s the perfect time to work with charities who’re working on promoting women’s rights. You’ll be able to give women the life skills they need, so they’ll be able to make the most of their lives going forward.
Another option is working in an orphanage or a community centre. You’ll be making friends with local Iraqi children and playing with them. Sometimes you might be helping them with their homework or even giving them extra lessons.
The autumn season is similar to the spring season. So there’s no specific seasonal work in Iraq in autumn. You should refer back to the ‘Spring’ section to find out more about the things you can do in autumn.
The winter season is a dangerous time for many of Iraq’s poorest. The majority of the country’s rainfall arrives in winter and the temperatures can get bitterly cold. Some parts of Iraq have even been known to experience snow in winter.
This is why you should consider working with the refugees. Those who have fled ISIS and the war in Syria all need your help. And there are always positions for volunteers who want to help. You don’t need to have professional qualifications in order to work in the refugee camps, but it does help.
Some backpackers who have volunteered in the refugee camps have even spent their time just keeping the children company.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN IRAQ
Iraq is the type of place that has a negative reputation because of war and politics. However, local Iraqi people are known as some of the friendliest people in the region. Just look up any travel blogger who has travelled to the country in the past.
It’s not as difficult as you think to connect with local Iraqis as a Westerner. But you do need to take precautions as this remains a country involved in major strife. This is why you should ensure that you have a volunteer role secured before you arrive in the country.
If you want to work and travel in Iraq, now has never been a better time for that!
- Edited on Dec 10 2018 by Marichka