In ethnic minority groups, family members often play an absolutely central role in providing care for their mentally ill relatives. The aim of the study was to explore how the relatives of mentally ill Iraqi refugees experience their role as informal caregivers. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with seven relatives of Iraqi mental health outpatients. The study indicated that Iraqi relatives felt severely burdened in their everyday life. They all had 24-hour commitments at home, being solely responsible for household tasks, childcare and all the practicalities of everyday life. Moreover, they were responsible for all aspects of caring for their mentally ill family member. The relatives suffered from ongoing socio-political strain, they had major psychological and social problems and felt isolated. Because of culture-bound obligations and stigma, the relatives felt unable to break their isolation. Finally, the relatives described their children as being severely affected by their parents' illness and the problems associated with it. It is a complex challenge for professionals in Western-oriented healthcare services to support this group of relatives. Professional support for the children of these refugee families is probably a very important aspect of intervention for this group.