Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin, July 2017 | Issued on 1 August [EN/AR/KU]
Large-scale fighting is over for now, but civilians face diversifying risks.
Returnees face insecurity, community distrust and low employment.
Donors pledge an additional $200 million in Washington, but more funds are still urgently needed to keep the response on track.
Massive destruction in West Mosul leaves 200,000 homeless
Number of people in need 11m
Number of people targeted for assistance 6.2m
Number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) 3.3m
Number of IDPs who live outside camps 2.5m
Number of affected ppl within host communities 3.2m
Number of returnees 2m
Number of Syrian refugees 0.23m
Protection problems shift
Diversifying risks compromise safety for civilians across Iraq
Large-scale fighting in Mosul is over, but the life-threatening risks faced by Iraqi civilians continue and become more diversified. There is widespread contamination through sophisticated explosive devices, pockets of volatility and reports of violence countrywide.
The fear of retributive acts amongst displaced people hinders the communities’ capacity to return home and restart their lives.
Clearance of explosive hazards will take years
After decades of war, the sheer volume of explosive devices renders Iraq one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world. Explosive hazards pose life-threatening risks to civilians fleeing their homes, and returning to their areas of origin. Cities like Mosul that experienced intense fighting are littered with unexploded artillery, pressure plates and complex booby traps. In urban areas improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are buried in the rubble, slowing clearance and preventing people from returning. In rural areas, contamination of farmers’ fields poses lethal risks to labourers and children in particular.
The complexity and diversity of IEDs requires specialist mine clearance operators, which is costly and time consuming.
The management of explosive hazards is a critical step in creating the conditions for sustainable return, but explosive hazards must be destroyed one-by-one. The sophistication of devices and extent of contamination make this a lengthy process. For food production to regain the level required to feed the people of Iraq, clearance operations in agricultural areas could take years. In Mosul alone, early estimates indicate that the clearance of explosive hazards may take over a decade.
Insecurity and asymmetric attacks continue
In addition to larger areas, pockets of volatility persist across the country as asymmetric attacks by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members continue to put civilians at risk from targeted body-borne and vehicle-borne IED attacks. There is also concern that people are in danger of being caught in outbreaks of fighting. Imam Gharbi, a town south of Mosul along the Tigris river, was attacked and overrun by ISIL in early July, displacing more than 1,800 people in the first half of the month. Iraqi Security Forces regained control of the town at the end of July, but pockets of fighting continue, putting civilians remaining in their homes at ongoing risk from indirect fire and artillery bombardment.
People displaced from Imam Gharbi fled to the town of Qayyarah, others to Jhallale village, near the power plant in Qayyarah. Some went to Al Alam and other to Tikrit, Salah al-Din governorate. Many sheltered in derelict or unfinished buildings in Shirqat town. ISIL maintains a presence in Salah al-Din governorate and towns like Shirqat are subject to repeated outbreaks of insecurity. Civilians regularly face risks from small arms fire and targeted IED attacks by ISIL operatives, as well as danger to their lives if caught in the crossfire or by aerial bombardment during clashes between ISIL and security forces.
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