September 1, 2017



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Why are individuals fleeing from Iraq?

Individuals are fleeing Iraq to escape war and/or persecution. Millions were left displaced after the war in Iraq and more recently as a result of the violence from insurgents. Many Iraqi refugees are in the United States with Special Immigration Visas because of their assistance to the U.S. Army or other U.S. agencies during the Iraq War.

Primary language(s) in Iraq

(Statistics from “The World Factbook” on CIA website)





Religions in Iraq

(Statistics from

99.0% Muslim (majority Shi’a, but some Sunni)

<1% Other Religions

Guidelines for Interacting with Iraqi Refugees

What are some cultural differences?

  • Dating is usually unacceptable unless a couple is engaged. Arranged marriages are common.
  • Honor is an important aspect of culture. Behavior by any member of a family reflects on the whole group.
  • Too much eye contact can be viewed as rude.
  • It is considered improper for a man and woman to shake hands if they are strangers.  Muslim women will often not shake the hand of a male stranger and a man should wait to see if the woman initiates a handshake.

What are some resettlement considerations?

  • Many Iraqi refugees are highly educated and lived comfortable lives at home. As a result, they may have high expectations and standards for living when they arrive in the United States. Adjusting to the reality of life in the U.S. can then be difficult, particularly if their certifications and credentials are not accepted or respected.
  • Iraqi refugees often arrive with a level of familiarity to Western culture which can assist in their acclimation and integration.
  • Due to previous experiences in Iraq, community members may exhibit a lack of trust for each other and may not hold the same sense of community as other resettled groups.
  • A high number of refugees from Iraq suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Common Phrases (Arabic)


Hello: Marhaba

Welcome: Ahlan wa-sahlan

Where are you from? (f): Min wen inti?

Where are you from? (m): Min wen inta?

Thank you: Shukran

Yes: Na’am

No: ‘La

Also – a video with greetings in Arabic.

*This collection of information is neither perfect nor comprehensive.  Each culture is unique and cultural norms are diverse even among individuals from the same culture.  Additionally, the refugees from the following places are diverse, as is easy to see in the guidelines in this report.

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