Iraq

Inter-Agency Mission to Balad - December 2019

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On 10 December 2019, an inter-agency team, comprised of IOM, UNAMI DCO, UNDP, UNHCR OCHA, and the Durable Solutions Advisor visited Balad district in Salah al-Din governorate. The objective was to verify access, hold introductory meetings with local authorities and meet with IDPs in protracted displacement at two sites, so as to get a first-hand understanding of their situation, needs, gaps, obstacles to return, and options for durable solutions. The team met with local authorities in Balad district and Al Ishaqi sub-district, and visited Al Ishaqi camp1 and Balad Train Station informal settlement. Both sites host approximately 70 families (400 people each). Balad district is accessible from Baghdad and Tikrit, but visits require prior liaison with local authorities.

The situation in terms of status, protection concerns, and other needs varies in each site, and action plans should be specific to the needs of each group. Al Ishaqi camp is characterized by female-headed households, elderly people, and obvious poverty. But residents have their identification documents and have been receiving some government subsidies. However, in Balad Train Station, the population is younger, with noticeably more male residents, and IDPs are perceptibly apprehensive about speaking to outsiders. The population of Balad Train Station are notable for the fact that they are returnees to the region from prior displacement elsewhere.

Return to places of origin is currently not feasible for either group.

Recommendations

• Additional Missions: Balad district has no access issues per se, but there is a misperception that the area is extremely difficult to access. Access is possible, and partners should plan for future visits.

• Multi-sector, phased approach to durable solutions: protracted displacement in Al Ishaqi camp and Balad Train Station informal settlement must be addressed through a multi-sector, phased approach, which takes into account humanitarian, recovery, transition, and stabilization initiatives, and development support in the areas of origin.

• CCCM Cluster: CCCM Cluster to follow-up as to why there are no humanitarian actors servicing either Al Ishaqi camp or the Balad Train Station informal settlement. Potential reasons include of land right issues and perceived access difficulties.

• Cash Working Group: The CWG is advised to clarify what the criteria are for MPCA eligibility, and its ultimate utility for this population. Some of these families already receive MoLSA payments, which could potentially exclude them from MPCA. If this is the case, we may want to avoid raising false hopes. Additionally, extreme poverty may negate any short-term benefits MPCA can provide.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.