Iraq - IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss visited Kerbala and Najaf governorates in central Iraq this week, to meet with local authorities, review joint humanitarian efforts, and discuss the needs of internally displaced Iraqis and host communities.
Both governorates are experiencing increased pressure on public services, including schools, water and sanitation services, and electricity infrastructure, due to the presence of displaced Iraqis, mainly from Ninewa governorate.
In Kerbala, Chief of Mission Weiss met with the Deputy Governor of Kerbala Jasim Al Fatlawy and Head of the Kerbala Provincial Council Nassif Jassem. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to re-commit to ongoing cooperation between IOM and Kerbala governorate to support displaced Iraqis and host communities.
The MoU covers cooperating in data collection on displaced Iraqis, returnees, and vulnerable communities, implementing livelihoods projects for vulnerable families, carrying out community development activities, and supporting provision of health care and distribution of emergency assistance.
Deputy Governor of Kerbala Jasim Al Fatlawy said: “We need continuity in cooperation between the Kerbala Provincial Council and IOM. Many displaced people are returning home, but there are also many displaced people who continue to reside in the Holy City of Kerbala. The local government is always ready to cooperate with IOM to provide services for displaced Iraqis.”
While in Kerbala IOM staff and governorate and local representatives visited a camp for internally displaced Iraqis in the city of Kerbala, run by the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MOMD). IOM is providing medical and psychosocial activities at the camp, including arts and crafts, sports, and group counseling.
In Najaf, the IOM Iraq Chief of Mission visited the local council and governorate, and met with Deputy Governor Abbas Jabur. The discussions brought up needs of displaced and host communities in Najaf, including non-food items, water rehabilitation, camp management courses, medical services, livelihoods assistance, and rehabilitation of schools.
The Chief of Mission and his group visited Taraf Al Buraq religious building in Markaz Al Najaf sub-district, in the area of Khan Al Rubi`a, where displaced Iraqis are taking shelter; MoMD is managing the site. At this site IOM had implemented rehabilitation for the building halls, including laying cement flooring and partitioning spaces to provide privacy. IOM medical staff also carried out a treatment campaign for persons infected with scabies and other skin diseases in coordination with health department; the campaign included a general hygiene awareness session.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Weiss thanked governorate representatives and community members for their efforts and hospitality to provide for the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and upon his visit, recognized the efforts of the administration of the Holy Shrine in Kerbala to provide assistance for IDPs.
Weiss said: “We are here to convey IOM’s support for local and governorate authorities to provide assistance to as many vulnerable displaced Iraqis as possible. IOM offers a range of life-saving assistance mechanisms, including non-food item packages, and provision of emergency health services. The projects also aim to assist host communities through livelihoods support and the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure.”
Deputy Governor of Najaf Abbas Jabur said: “We thank IOM for their support to assist displaced people in the governorate of Najaf. Several groups have put forward significant effort to address the problems and to supply items needed by the displaced. We appreciate IOM’s collaboration, provision of health support and support for schools.”
IOM Community Assistance Projects carried out in Kerbala and Najaf in 2016 were the rehabilitation of three schools and rehabilitation of a water network, directly benefiting over 8,200 individuals. In these two governorates combined over the past year, more than 580 displaced and vulnerable Iraqis received individual livelihood assistance benefitting more than 3,500 individuals and their communities. Livelihoods support in these governorates includes business support packages for displaced and vulnerable individuals to start or support businesses including: livestock management, courier businesses, home food production and hairdressing.
One woman participant in an IOM psychosocial course in Kerbala said: “I came from Tel Afar in 2014, when my husband joined an armed group. I felt unsafe at home, so I left our house with my three young sons. On the way we passed an ISIL check point; they took my sons and told me that ‘They will come behind you.’ I have not seen them since that day; I think they were killed. After I came to this camp I started to take a course through IOM psychosocial activities for women affected by the conflict. I benefited a lot from this course. Now I see a glimmer of hope amidst my sadness.”
According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), there are more than 65,000 displaced Iraqis in Kerbala governorate. Of these IDPs in Kerbala, over 29,000 are in rented accommodations, and 26,000 take shelter in religious buildings; more than 61,500 are from Ninewa governorate.
Najaf governorate hosts more than 78,000 displaced Iraqis. More than 49,400 are in religious buildings, and 25,700 are in rented accommodations; 75,500 are from Ninewa governorate. The majority of displaced Iraqis in both Kerbala and Najaf governorates were displaced between June and August 2014.
The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking has identified more than 161,000 individuals who are still currently displaced by Mosul operations, of the cumulative total of more than 196,000 who have been displaced since 17 October 2016 to date. The majority (79 percent) are from Mosul district in Ninewa governorate.
The latest DTM Emergency Tracking figures on displacement from Mosul operations are available at: http://iraqdtm.iom.int/EmergencyTracking.aspx.
For further information, please contact IOM Iraq. Sandra Black, Tel: +964 751 234 550, Email: email@example.com or Jennifer Sparks, Tel: +964 751 740 1642, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org