Emergency needs assessments: Three years of post-Samarra displacement in Iraq, 22 Feb 2009



Three years after a severe wave of sectarian violence began, returns are increasing and new displacement is rare. Iraqis look to rebuilding their lives facing an uncertain security future.

On 22 February 2006, the bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque in Samarra triggered escalating sectarian violence that drastically changed the cause and scale of displacement in Iraq, both to locations inside Iraq and to locations abroad. Since February 2006, more than 1,600,000(1) Iraqis (270,000 families) have been displaced - approximately 5.5% of the total population. Of these 270,000 families, IOM monitoring teams have identified and assessed 209,402 (an estimated 1,256,412 individuals), or 80% of the total post-Samarra displacement population.(2)

These assessments, illustrated in this report, reveal the demographic composition and geographic journeys of the IDP populations remaining in displacement, as well as detail the overwhelming needs for basics such as adequate shelter, sufficient food, clean water, and access to employment. Even as security appears to improve and displacement slows, Iraqi IDPs face threats of eviction and live in precarious environments, with the possibility of violence still a present worry. IOM's assessments of IDP families' intentions reveal that many wish to return home and may do so if conditions permit, especially that of security. Others wish to begin new lives in their places of displacement or other locations. These families need assistance to implement these choices successfully. Of the assessed IDP population, there are about 130,000 families who have indicated they would return to their original locations, while about 45,000 families would like to be integrated into their current locations of displacement. In addition, about 35,000 families would like to resettle in a third location.

Currently 49,432(3) returnee families (an estimated 296,592 individuals) have been identified across the country by IOM returnee field monitors. They too, face harsh living conditions, destroyed property and infrastructure, and loss of former livelihoods. IOM and other humanitarian organizations are working to assist IDP and returnee families, but the response remains inadequately funded in proportion to the many and diverse needs across Iraq.