Shelter Project – Iraq

The pilot project for a European resettlement initiative


Since 2014 the military conflict in Iraq has constantly been escalating. Fights between the IS on the one side and the Iraqi military, Kurdish security forces and Shiite militias on the other have turned an estimated number of 3.3 million people into refugees within the borders of Iraq. Meanwhile, about one million people from Mosul must be added to this amount of internally displaced persons (IDP).

Most of these displaced persons want to return home as soon as security conditions allow and rebuild their destroyed flats and houses, thus their livelihood. Otherwise they risk living in tented camps for a very long time or even fleeing abroad.

Project and the project partners make a return home and rebuilding possible for 500 families with this first project, by providing them with a decent housing during the rebuilding process.

Under the instruction of the UNHCR, Better Shelter developed these modular shelters. The IKEA Foundation covered the development costs. The Better Shelter shelters are in every aspect more decent and stable than refugee tents: no fabric, but plastic panels framed with steel tubing, and lockable doors and windows. Even grownups can stand upright inside these shelters and a solar panel, which produces electricity, is fixed on the roof. The Better Shelter shelters have almost 18 m2 and offer space for a family of up to eight persons.

Terre des hommes, an aid agency operating worldwide, will distribute the shelters starting from September 2017 on-site and assemble them together with the families. Since 2014 the workers of Terre des hommes have been in Northern Iraq and are as familiar as possible with the local authorities.

The aim of the pilot project is to fund 500 Better Shelter shelters for 500 returning families.


A Better Shelter shelter costs about $1,150. Therefore, 500 of these shelters cost $575,000 (about €500,000). The indirect costs (transport, organisation and processing on-sight) are covered by major donors or participating NGOs, so that all collected donations can be used for the housing. Major donors ensure half of the €500,000. In other words, thanks to double donors, one shelter can be build with €500. wants to provide the missing €250,000 via a crowdfunding donation project. Besides the actual project presentation on the Crowdfunding Platform, a website is created which provides information about the process, project partners and recent developments.


The subject of refugees is a key issue for a secure coexistence in Europe. Europe has to be more engaged locally – meaning in the war and crisis areas. It is human dignity that demands to help families who want to return to their homes and rebuild their livelihood.

Since 2015 many aid projects for refugees have been started via considers this pilot project as an opportunity to continue working with strong partners on an international level and to bring the discussion of the topics migration, integration and refuge in Austria and Europe to a new and constructive level.


The project partners Terre des hommes, Better Shelter and consider this pilot project as a starting point for a long-term cooperation. We want to continue this project and bring it to a European level.

Austria can thus assume the role of an initiator and can pave the way for a positive and productive European resettlement policy together with Sweden, since the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already indicated its interest. This private initiative can reach its biggest impact when it is supported by the state, for the issue of refugees can only be solved by a cooperation of the state and private partners eventually.