Iraq in turmoil
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since a U.S.-led invasion toppled the country's leader Saddam Hussein in 2003. Although overall violence has dropped sharply since a peak in 2006-7, daily life for Iraqis remains precarious.
- Hundreds of thousands displaced by violence
- Basic services devastated by sanctions and war
- Insecurity hampers aid agencies
The toppling of Saddam unleashed a ferocious insurgency that deepened divisions in Iraqi society along sectarian or ethnic lines.
The violence has decreased since the worst days of sectarian conflict, but bombings, assassinations and other attacks by Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi'ite militias still occur frequently and thousands of people are killed every year.
Millions of Iraqis are dependent on food aid and many do not have access to clean water. The health system – once one of the best in the region – was crippled by the conflict and the international sanctions that predated it.
More than 1.1 million people remain displaced throughout the country, many of them living in dire conditions, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says. Another 480,000 people were in Syria in January 2013 and 450,500 in Jordan, according to government estimates in these countries. However, the total number of displaced is unknown.
Before the invasion, Iraqis had suffered decades of dictatorship, war and international sanctions. The economy was crippled and its infrastructure shattered.
The invasion brought an end to sanctions and paved the way for elections and a new constitution. Billions of aid dollars poured in to rebuild the country but the dire security situation and corruption have hampered reconstruction.
Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled to Iraq since war broke out there. Many of them are sheltering in camps near the border.