Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin, June 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



  • Returns to Sinjar and Al-Baaj

  • Increase in COVID-19 cases

  • Prime Minister visits IDP camp in Ninewa

  • Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. meets with Governor of Anbar

  • Iraq participates in conference on displacement

Return of Displaced People to Sinjar and Al-Baaj

From 8 June, large numbers of displaced Iraqis began returning to their areas of origin around north-western Ninewa Governorate, mostly to Sinjar District as well as to Al-Baaj District. Motivated by reports of improved security, clearance of explosive ordnance and the rehabilitation of public infrastructure, a total of 5,113 individuals had returned by 30 June. Some also said that COVID-19 movement restrictions, which hampered one or more family member’s ability to travel back to the districts for livelihoods purposes, were a reason for their families returning to the area.

Among those returning, more than 80 per cent were arriving from Duhok Governorate, along with 19 per cent from within Ninewa and less than 1 per cent from Erbil. More than two thirds arrived directly from camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) with the remainder arriving from non-camp displacement settings.

Partners including the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix reported that not all of those attempting to return had been successful in returning to their location of origin; while two thirds of the arrivals were able to return to their homes successfully, one third became newly displaced on arrival, often because of inadequate, damaged or destroyed housing. Some IDPs have sheltered in damaged houses, have occupied vacant ones, or are staying with hosts.

Other challenges for returnees included debris removal and unexploded ordnance, given the large-scale destruction witnessed in Sinjar. There were also significant challenges for returnees and the re-displaced arriving in the area, with limited basic services such as health care, markets, water and electricity.

Access was a challenge for returnees and NGOs alike at some of the checkpoints used en route. The Duhok-Mosul-Sinjar route involved 17 checkpoints which affected hundreds of families and caused significant delays. The Mosul dam route also had a temporary bridge that limited the truck load to 14 tons. The shortest route to Sinjar through the Sahela checkpoint was not allowing the IDPs to transport their belongings while using that road. At one point, more than 100 families were stuck at the Shabhid Badr checkpoint on arrival into Ninewa. By 29 June, after negotiations with authorities, the Sahela checkpoint was opened for returning IDPs from Duhok. Similarly, NGOs have also reported difficulty reaching the areas to provide humanitarian assistance. Despite the challenges, partners and local authorities in Sinjar and Al-Baaj have responded by providing food, water, mobile health care, and hygiene and other non-food items to the arrivals.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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