Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin, January 2018 | Issued on 6 February
• Increasing numbers of people are returning to their areas of origin, according to IOM.
• Humanitarian activities resume and people begin moving back to Hawiga, following the end of security operations in the district.
• Progress on fast track visas, however registration process for NGOs still cumbersome.
• The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan will be launched in February and aims to target the 3.4 million people in Iraq who are most vulnerable, costing approximately US$ 569 million.
• IHF supports critical winterization assistance, Jad’ah camp management and NGO coordination.
# of people in need 8.7m
# of people targeted for assistance 3.4m
# of internally displaced persons (IDPs) 2.6m
# of IDPs who live outside camps 2.5m
# of affected ppl within host communities 3.2m
# of returnees 3.2m
# of Syrian refugees 0.24m
As returns increase, there is a need to ensure these returns are voluntary, safe and dignified
Increasing numbers of people are returning to their areas of origin.
Humanitarian partners continue to advocate for a voluntary, safe and dignified returns process.
In mid-January, for the first time since the beginning of the Iraq displacement crisis, which began in December 2013, IOM recorded more returnees (3.2 million individuals) than people displaced (2.6 million individuals) in Iraq. Returns have primarily occurred in the governorates of Anbar, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. These three governorates account for 82 per cent of the total returns, as well as 86 per cent of the current IDP population.
To ensure a safe and dignified return process, the Government issued a statement on 11 January strongly emphasizing the voluntariness of the returns process. While increasing return movements generally coincide with improving security and basic service delivery in places of origin, incidents of displaced families being compelled to prematurely return to unsafe locations, where explosive hazards may be present or basic services are lacking, have been reported.
Concurrent with its commitment to voluntary and principled returns, the Government also maintains its plan to see all displaced people return to their areas of origin by May, prior to scheduled parliamentary elections. Concerns remain, however, that some displaced people may be unwilling or unable to sustainably leave areas of displacement. In early January, the Federal Ministry of Education (MoE) announced that all Arabic-language schools for displaced students in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KR-I) have been instructed to permanently close following the end of the new school year. This may potentially affect 160,000 students and 8,000 teachers attending 416 schools in the KR-I, creating an indirect push factor for displaced families to relocate. The UN and NGOs are currently advocating with the MoE to review this decision. To oversee the camp consolidation, camp decommissioning, and to ensure the returns process in each concerned governorate is voluntary, Voluntary Returns Committees will be established by the Government in February. UN agencies and NGOs will have representatives sitting on each of these committees.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.