Iraq: Comparative Multi-Cluster Assessment of Internally Displaced Persons Living in Camps, July 2017


Since late 2013, the intensification of the conflict in the North and Centre of Iraq has led to several waves of mass displacement. This has resulted in 3,017,148 internally displaced persons (IDPs) identified across Iraq as of April 2016. Of these, 842,519 individuals are registered as living in 93 formal camps across Iraq.

This Comparative Multi-Cluster Assessment of Internally Displaced Persons Living in Camps report provides updated information on developments, needs and gaps in all IDP camps across Iraq to inform effective humanitarian planning. The report provides a comparative analysis of all IDP camps that were assessed by REACH as part of round VIII of its Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Quarterly IDP Camp Profiling Exercise. In this round, all accessible IDP camps – a total of 64 out of 93 identified open formal camps in Iraq – were assessed by REACH. Primary data was collected through household surveys and key informant interviews between 4 and 25 May 2017.

As the Iraq IDP crisis becomes further protracted, households have been increasingly reliant on negative coping strategies in order to meet their basic needs. Recently displaced households tend to rely on selling their assets, and as their displacement becomes protracted and their resources become exhausted they progressively rely on taking on debt. This leaves IDPs often having to prioritise their access to basic services in camps, such as food, healthcare and education.

Even though healthcare facilities were reported accessible across the country, since August-September 2016 IDPs have been increasingly reporting the cost of services and the lack of medicines as obstacles to accessing healthcare. Food insecurity remains a concern throughout the country, as only 88% of households had an acceptable food consumption score (FCS). This was most concerning in Anbar and Mosul emergency camps. Using coping strategies to deal with the lack of food was frequent across all camps, with a particular increase in Salah al-Din where over half of households resorted to coping strategies.

The conditions of camps regarding existing infrastructure and available services varied significantly between governorates, with the highest need for assistance recorded in the Southern governorates and the Mosul emergency camps, established in response to the recent mass displacement from Mosul. In contrast to camps in the North, most of which have been established for longer periods of time and are managed by local authorities, camps in Southern governorates have mostly developed from spontaneous settlements following the arrival of newly displaced households from Ramadi in early 2015, and are often managed by volunteers. These camps continue to display clear programmatic gaps due to a lack of infrastructure, lower rates of school attendance, and insufficient access to water and sanitation. Similar issues are observed in the Mosul emergency camps, where basic services such as education, adequate WASH facilities and livelihood opportunities are missing.

Key issues of concern in IDP camps across Iraq include, but are not limited to, the following:


As their displacement becomes protracted, IDPs shift from selling assets and spending savings towards the use of debt to meet their needs, as they exhaust their resources. The proportion of households without a source of income has increased across the country, with 32% reporting no income source compared to 19% in December 2016-January 2017. The lack of livelihood sources was most alarming in the Southern governorates of Anbar (58%) and Kerbala (53%), as well as in the Mosul emergency camps, where between 80% and 90% of households reported no livelihood source. Female-headed households were particularly vulnerable, as they were less likely to report having an income and were more often relying more on less sustainable income sources such as aid, gifts and pension. In contrast, male-headed households were more likely to have an employment-based income source.

Food Security:

Food insecurity remains an issue in a number of camps across the country, particularly in Southern governorates and Mosul emergency camps. Only 88% of households have acceptable food consumption scores (FCS). The most concerning situation was recorded in Anbar, where 12% of households had poor FCS, and a lack of livelihood sources was also frequently reported (58% of households reported having no income source). The use of coping strategies remains high across all governorates, with over half of all households resorting to one or more strategies. This was particularly concerning in Salah Al-Din, where households adopted more intense coping strategies such as reducing their food intake.


The proportion of households reporting cost of healthcare as a challenge to accessing healthcare has increased by 18 percentage points since August-September 2016 (Round VI). Even though health care centers were reportedly accessible in all camps, the majority of households reported having issues accessing healthcare. Sixty-six percent of households reported the cost of healthcare as an issue in this round of the assessment compared to 48% in August-September 2016. The cost of healthcare was followed by the inability to afford medicines in pharmacies (41%) and the lack of medicines in hospitals (21%).

Shelter and NFI

Several gaps in the quality of shelters in Central and Southern governorates and Mosul emergency camps were observed, raising concerns regarding health and protection issues in these camps. Ninety-seven percent of households in Salah Al-Din and 81% in Anbar reported not having a cement base or secondary cover for their shelter, similarly to Mosul emergency camps where almost all households did not have a cement base. The lack of cement base and secondary cover exposes people to the elements, aggravating the high incidence of disease. The priority shelter needs reported were tarpaulins (85%) and sun shading nets (83%), potentially indicating the inadequacy of current shelters for the summer temperatures. Items such as mattresses, gas cookers and blankets were also reported as priority needs by almost half of all households (between 45% and 48%) across all governorates assessed.


Camps located in Central and Southern governorates as well as Mosul Emergency camps were more likely to report a lack of adequate WASH infrastructure, raising protection and health concerns in camps. Households living in Kerbala and Najaf have been buying drinking water from shops for over a year (April 2016). This was also the case for half of households in Baghdad and Diyala, which adds a significant financial burden on IDPs living in these camps. The lack of gender segregated toilets, with functioning lighting and locks on the inside was most commonly reported in Anbar, Sulaymaniyah and Mosul emergency camps, which raises significant protection concerns.


Despite the relatively high proportion of households reporting being aware of the existence of camp committees, a lack of transparency surrounding the representativeness of existing camp committees was found. Findings revealed that committees were often perceived not to be elected by camp residents: only 33% of households perceived them to be elected, an overall decrease from April 2016 when 49% reported so. About 17% of households reported having made a complaint, yet the proportion of those who reported action taken as a result of their complaint was very low (less than 10%), with no households reporting so in Ninewa (mainly Mosul camps), Dahuk, Diyala and Najaf. This suggests a disconnect between complaint feedback mechanisms and communication channels currently in use in camps, which impacts negatively on beneficiary utilisation of community participation initiatives. Insufficient communication with IDPs in camps is further evidenced by the high proportions of households reporting receiving inadequate information inside the camps. IDPs reported needing more information about available assistance and employment opportunities in camps.


The proportion of children between 6 and 11 years old enrolled in formal education has decreased significantly from 74% in August-September 2016 to only 54% in this round of the assessment. This was largely due to Mosul emergency camps where less than 10% of children aged 6 to 17 years old were reportedly attending formal education. The difference between girls’ and boys’ attendance was most significant for children aged 6 to 11 years old, in contrast to previous assessment rounds (December 2016-January 2017, August-September 2016) where gender differences in attendance were mostly observed among older children (15 to 17 years old). The most commonly reported reasons for children not attending school were lack of interest in the classes (21%), followed by the cost of education (15%) and recent arrival in the camp (14%). However, these varied between governorates and camps.