IOM press briefing notes 18 Mar 2003: Middle East

News and Press Release
Originally published
Spokesperson: Jean-Philippe Chauzy

MIDDLE EAST - Iraq contingency plan will target Internally Displaced Persons - In response to a request from the UN, IOM has expanded its Iraq contingency planning to include assistance to internally displaced Iraqis who may flee their homes in the event of war.

Under the new plan, IOM would assume responsibility for coordinating relief for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the south and center of Iraq, in the aftermath of any conflict.

The UN Operations & Project Services agency (UNOPS), would coordinate IDP relief in the three northern governorates currently outside Baghdad's control and temporary shelter for IDPs throughout the country. Habitat, the UN housing agency, would coordinate durable shelter assistance for IDPs nationwide.

IOM's responsibilities, working closely with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI), would include the setting up and management coordination of IDP camps, registration of up to a million IDPs and, eventually, provision of transport to help up to 500,000 people to return to their homes.

The contingency plan operates from the assumption that there may be up to three million IDPs, of whom two million could be in the central and southern regions. It assumes that roughly 50% would stay with extended family and friends, 25% would find shelter in existing structures such as schools and public buildings, and 25% would need shelter in tent camps.

As the coordinating agency for IDPs, IOM would coordinate the international humanitarian response to help the one million people in tents and public buildings, maximizing the participation of other international agencies and NGOs, and covering gaps in camp management and delivery of essential non-food items, such as blankets, fuel and cooking utensils.

Under the plan, IOM would also deliver essential non-food items to up to 500,000 IDPs, working with UN logisticians to set up the necessary delivery systems and warehouses in Iraq and neighbouring countries.

IOM's role would also include compiling data on the number of IDPs and their location. It would set up a common IDP registration format to be used by all implementing agencies nationwide, together with a central database of IDP-related information to help humanitarian agencies and donors target their aid.

IOM planners have calculated the operation at US$43.5 million for a period of six months. The UN has advanced US$1 million from its Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) to allow IOM to develop the concept further and prepare for implementation, in the event of war breaking out.

The new IDP role is in addition to IOM's other contingency mandate to provide transport and transit facilities for some 70,000 third country nationals (TCNs) leaving Iraq, and transport for some 205,000 refugees and asylum seekers from border areas to designated camps in neighbouring countries. The earlier plan was expected to cost some US$ 26 million over six months, including a US$1.9 million preparatory phase.

IOM is currently briefing potential donors and, to date, has received US$1.2 million from the US, the UK and Switzerland to fund its contingency preparations, including the deployment of specialist staff to the region.