Providing Advocacy, Education and Information for former Refugees.

Hello and welcome to our website. 

Unfortunately we have detected that you browser is out of date!

This may mean that certain parts of our website may display incorrectly for you. To fix any errors we recommend updating your web browser or downloading Google Chrome Click here to download chrome.



Arabic & Kurdish

Predominantly: Islam


October 3rd

36 million

Following a coup d’état in 1968, Iraq was ruled by the Sunni-led Ba’ath party until 2003.

In 1979, Saddam Hussein took control. The Ba’ath party crushed any alternative political organisation, with extrajudicial executions, detentions, torture and large-scale disappearances. Assyrian Christians and Kurds were systematically repressed.53 Kurdish and Shiite Muslims who opposed the regime were subjected to particularly harsh oppression.

In 1990, Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait, in response to which the United Nations launched a military campaign resulting in the Gulf War. In the same year, the UN also imposed a military, financial and trading boycott on Iraq. The 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein by the Kurds and the Shiite Muslims in the south was brutally crushed by the Republican Guard, which arrested 150,000 people. Two million people were forced to flee.

In 2003, after an invasion led by American and British forces, the Ba’ath Party was removed from power and Iraq came under a military occupation by a multinational coalition. Sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004. A new constitution was then approved by referendum, and a new government was elected. However, sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites has continued to escalate. Sunni-led insurgencies have staged ongoing attacks on United States-led troops, Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated government, its security forces, oil installations and civilians. The insurgents include nationalists, former members of the Iraqi military and supporters of Saddam. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the invasion, and the ongoing violence continues to drive many more to flee their homes. The United Nations estimates that over 4 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence in their country; the vast majority of these have fled since 2003.

The Iraqis arrived in New Zealand after the Iran – Iraq war in 1988.

The most common Arabic greeting is Salam in short of “asalaamu alaikum” means (peace be with you), to which you should respond “wa alaikum salaam” means (and peace be with too); handshake is used between men with eye contact and smile. Women cannot shake hands to men, although they cannot kiss, embrace family member and close friends on the cheek.

Iraqis like to invite people to their homes. If you are invited to a home:

Check to see if you should remove shoes.

Dress conservatively and smartly.

Iraqi table manners are relatively formal. If the meal is on the floor, sit cross-legged or kneel on one knee.

Use the right hand for eating and drinking.

It is considered polite to leave some food on your plate when you have finished eating.

Gifts are given with two hands.

Gifts are generally not opened when received.

It is rude to sit opposite someone showing them the bottoms of one’s feet.

The left hand should not be used to shake hands with an Iraqi.

Contact Roctrust for more missing information.

Contact Roctrust for more missing information.

The Shia and Sunnis are similar in over 95% of ways. The differences are not as acute as one would think. Essentially the split occurred to the political question of who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad as the leader of the community. Major differences between the two occur in jurisprudence (i.e. how to pray, how to marry, inheritance) and minor elements of faith. 

During Saddam’s regime only Sunnis held real power. Now, the Shia majority hold more power.

Iraqis consider family and honor to be of paramount importance. The extended family or tribe is both a political and social force. Families hold their members responsible for their conduct, since any wrongdoing brings shame to the entire family. Loyalty to the family comes before other social relationships, even business

Never let your feet touch the food mat.

Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Facebook Icon

Login to forum: