Norwegian People's Aid started working in Iraq in the 90s in the Kurdistan region. The area had been left in ruins as part of the genocidal campaign Al-Anfal directed against the Kurds in Iraq a few years earlier. After the first Gulf war in 1991, the Kurdish population revolted against Saddam Hussein. The uprising was brutally suppressed and two million fled to neighboring countries. A UN-led humanitarian intervention made it possible for refugees to return. This was the beginning of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. In the 1990s, the Norwegian People's Aid ran mine clearance and reconstruction operations in the destroyed Kurdish countryside.
Iraq is resource rich, with the world's second largest estimated deposits of oil and gas - it is therefore of strategic importance
Kurds constitute up to one quarter of the population, and has autonomy in northern Iraq