Ninewa Governorate — Nine families were given support to leave Salamiyah Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) yesterday (9/9) and return voluntarily to their areas of origin in northern Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate; a further 26 families left the camp today (10/9). These families were the first to depart from a group of 120 households in the camp that are expected to return to areas of origin through an initiative organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD).
During the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) more than 6 million Iraqis were displaced from their areas of origin. Ninewa was hard-hit during the ISIL crisis; its capital city and Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, was captured in June 2014.
Nearly three years after the official defeat of ISIL, hundreds of thousands of families across the country have returned to their areas of origin; an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement. This supported voluntary return activity is among the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq.
“These voluntary returns in Ninewa build on the earlier experiences in Anbar in July, where both government and international agencies partnered to support the sustainable resolution of displacement. They form part of a bigger programme of support to displaced communities, a programme that we hope will continue to expand,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “These activities are grounded in principles of safety, voluntariness and dignity for IDPs; they work towards post-conflict recovery and ultimately greater stability in Iraq.”
“Ninewa Governorate seeks to make more efforts to help IDPs return to their areas of origin, by providing services and logistical supplies to the people and through cooperation and communication with the federal government, IOM and other organizations,” said Mr. Najm al-Jiburi, Governor of Ninewa. "We value the wonderful efforts of the relevant ministries and IOM to ensure that there is a new life for the displaced through voluntary returns to their areas."
IOM Iraq and MoMD worked closely with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to facilitate the operation in Salamiyah Camp, with camp management support from ACTED. Premiere Urgence Internationale covered health-related activities, while the International Rescue Committee (IRC) oversaw the protection accompaniment for the returning families. INTERSOS and other partners are providing protection support and other services both in the camp and in the families’ communities of origin. Project activities consist of two phases — pre-departure and transition — that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return. Types of assistance include housing and livelihood support; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support.
The Ninewa operation follows a similar activity that took place in Anbar Governorate in July, when 40 households departed from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp and returned to their homes in Anbar over two days. Both operations are part of a larger initiative organized by IOM Iraq — a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network — and MoMD. It is expected to reach 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive voluntary return support in these governorates.
The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return. IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during return activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns.
IOM Iraq’s efforts to promote voluntary, safe, dignified and informed solutions to displacement are supported by a number of international partners, most notably the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
IOM and numerous international partners, including UNHCR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq.
For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel.: +964 751 402 2811, Email: email@example.com