Number of Returns Exceeds Number of Displaced Iraqis: UN Migration Agency

For the first time since the beginning of the Iraq crisis in December 2013, the number of people returning to their area of origin has surpassed the number of people displaced in the country.

Over the past four years, the country has been deeply affected by the conflict with ISIL, which led to the displacement of nearly six million people. Prime Minister Abadi announced Iraq’s victory over ISIL on 9 December 2017; by the end of 2017 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, identified 3.2 million people, who have returned back to their place of origin, while a staggering 2.6 million remained displaced.

Following the improvement of the security situation in retaken areas, a sizable number of internally displaced Iraqis have returned to their location of origin, mainly to the Governorates of Anbar (38 per cent; more than 1.2 million people), Ninewa (30 per cent; nearly 975,000 people), and Salah al-Din (14 per cent; nearly 460,000 people). These three governorates were the worst affected by ISIL’s occupation, and count for 86 per cent of the current displaced population in the country.

Shortly after the operation to retake Mosul was launched in October 2016, IOM Iraq constructed two emergency displacement sites, one in Haj Ali and one in Qayara, with combined capacity of sheltering 110,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The sites were constructed in partnership with the Government’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement; both sites are located in the southeast of Ninewa governorate.

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

As the Iraqi Government celebrated its final victory over ISIL this week, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released a new study, which shows that 90 per cent of displaced Iraqis are determined to return home. This is similar to the long-term intentions recorded in 2016.

More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their places of origin so far in 2017. In total since the start of the crisis in 2014, IOM estimates that more than 2.8 million displaced Iraqis have returned, while more than 2.9 million people remain displaced.

The IOM study, Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) analyzes both displacement and return movements of conflict-affected people across Iraq. Approximately 2.1 million displaced persons and more than 1.6 million returnees, based in 3,583 locations across Iraq, have been covered in the assessment, which was carried out between March and May 2017.

Only in Basrah and Najaf did families report that they consider integrating into the local community, where they are displaced.

According to the findings, Anbar was the single governorate where most returns took place in both 2016 and 2017, followed by Ninewa in 2017.

Among the main findings, this study identifies that residential and infrastructure damage is widespread. Nearly one third of returnees are reported to have returned to houses that have suffered significant damage, and 60 per cent to moderately damaged residences. Regarding infrastructure, most damage appears to affect roads, followed by the public power grid and water networks.

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

With some 8,500 people displaced over the past two weeks amid Iraq’s military operations to retake Anbar province, the United Nations migration agency announced today that it is stepping up provision of life-saving assistance.

“People newly displaced from their homes often arrive dehydrated, suffering from hunger and thirst,” said Dr. Hamed Amro, in a news release while assisting recently internally displaced people (IDPs) in Rutba.

While military operations to retake west Anbar were officially launched on 19 September, many families – often children, women and older people – walk long distances, some for several days, often in intense heat, to reach safe areas.

“Many require psychosocial support and need medical care. Some have chronic illness and exacerbated conditions due to long term lack of care, and others suffer from malnutrition; we have also received a few trauma cases,” Dr. Amro stressed.

From early January through 2 October, IOM’s Emergency Tracking has identified a total of 54,546 displaced individuals from west Anbar, particularly from Ana, Al Ka’im and Ra’ua districts.

An IOM update shows that some 85 per cent of them transited through Kilo 18 screening site and are displaced within Anbar governorate. By district, Falluja hosts 25,300 individuals, Ramadi another 15,100 and Heet 3,100. At the same time, 3,600 sought safety in the Baghdad governorate and 4,400 in the Erbil governorate.

Since January, 32,886 of the total 54,546 IDPs are currently registered in camps, and 21,660 in out-of-camp locations – with 21,132 in private settings and 528 in critical shelter arrangements.

In Anbar, IOM medical staff are providing immediate assistance to nearly 1,000 IDPs per week through four Mobile Medical Teams working in greatest-need locations, including Falluja city, Ameriyat al Fallujah, Heet and Garma. All are identified in cooperation with Anbar Directorate of Health, part of Iraq’s Ministry of Health.

In the past two weeks, IOM has worked closely with Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement in distributing 795 non-food item kits, including a plastic cool box and rechargeable fan, to families in Al Habanyah – in addition to 500 kits previously distributed to those not living in camps in Heet. Additional distributions are scheduled for the coming week.

“Life in Al-Ka’im city, under the control of ISIL, was extremely difficult,” said Ahmed, who, according to IOM, was displaced with his family of six to Haditha district, Anbar, in a perilous and long journey. “I hired smugglers to help my wife, four children, my mother and myself to escape. They drove us early morning through unpaved roads. Now we are displaced and living in an unfinished building; we have spent all our limited savings and have no money to cover our needs. The supplies we received today will help us get through this difficult time,” Ahmed told IOM staff at an aid distribution.

(Source: United Nations News Centre)

Military operations to retake Hawija district and surrounding areas, which began on 21 September, have to date displaced more than 2,400 individuals from Hawija, Kirkuk governorate and Shirqat, Salah al-Din governorate. The majority displaced to Ninewa governorate, including 1,700 individuals bussed by Iraqi authorities to IOM’s Haj Ali emergency site 60 km south of Mosul.

Most of these recently displaced people arrived to a secure area after fleeing their towns and villages, many walking five to 10 hours through desert lands, leaving them dehydrated and exhausted.

The majority of IDPs arriving at Haj Ali are children, women and older people. As the military operations continue, thousands of additional families are expected to be displaced and in need of assistance.

Upon arrival, families are assigned a tent and given two kits: a Rapid Response Mechanism kit (food, water and a hygiene kit) from a local NGO; and an NFI kit from IOM, including mattresses, bedding, kitchen set, fan, light, plastic mats, gas cooker, and more. An IOM doctor is present at registration to identify urgent health needs.

Amal, 24, from Tal al-Wared village in Hawija district, along with a group of family members, arrived in Haj Ali site on Friday, September 22. While visiting IOM’s health center for medical checkups, she said “Life in Hawija was very difficult, there were shortages of food and basic supplies. I am very concerned about my 16 relatives who were not able to depart with us. We are still waiting to hear from them.”

Dr. Ahmed Basheer of IOM at Haj Ali site was among a group of first responders to provide emergency medical care for newly displaced people.

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

This past week the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, sent emergency teams from its Erbil, Iraq, mission to provide front-line non-food item (NFI) assistance to an informal settlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The settlers are principally nomadic herders fleeing ISIL’s last remaining major stronghold in Iraq: Tal Afar.

Following the fall of Mosul, 255 families – mostly shepherds with their livestock – fled from villages on the outskirts of Tal Afar to establish an informal camp in Badoush, about 40 kilometres from Tal Afar city, in Iraq’s Ninewa governorate.

They escaped about six weeks ago.

Iraqi forces are preparing to launch a military offensive on Tal Afar – a city originally of 200,000 people in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, before ISIL took control of it in mid-2014. Although the militant group has lost nearly two-thirds of the territory it once controlled, it remains active in some of the country’s northern and western areas.

Tal Afar city, with the largest Turkmen population in the country (a mix of Sunni Turkmen and Shia Arabs), is located about 60 kilometres west of Mosul.

According to reports from Tal Afar, where an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 people remain in the city, ISIL is preventing people from escaping, as it did in West Mosul, by shooting at families attempting to flee.

Those managing to flee the city, mostly women, children and the elderly, must take a meandering route to avoid being spotted by ISIL, mostly arriving in the late hours of the night.

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)