Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin, October 2020

Situation Report
Originally published
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  • IDP Camp Closures and Consolidations

  • Humanitarian Coordinator’s Visit to Ninewa

  • High-Level SGBV Event at UNGA75

  • Mental Health Support for Yazidi Community

  • Remote learning for Conflict-Affected Children

  • Scaling Up Food Security

Closure and Consolidation of IDP Camps

From 2014-2017, more than six million Iraqis were internally displaced by violence perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and subsequent Government of Iraq operations to defeat them. Since large-scale military operations against ISIL concluded in 2017, some 4.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned home. As of 1 October, approximately 1.3 million people remained in displacement, including approximately 250,000 in 43 formal IDP camps. Many of the remaining IDPs face significant barriers preventing an end to their displacement, including: lack of civil documentation required to travel domestically or use public services; lack of housing and services, due to destruction and other causes; the presence of explosive remnants of war in home areas; and threats to their safety and security, including due to perceived affiliation to ISIL.

On 8 October 2020, the Government announced the closure of all remaining IDP camps. In mid-October 2020, the Government began efforts to close and consolidate IDP camps and by 31 October, 436 households (2,370 individuals) had departed six camps and large informal sites in Al-Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala and Kerbala. Families who left camps and sites in these four governorates were sometimes compelled to do so at short notice. In at least two cases, families being moved back to areas of origins became stuck at checkpoints for hours, without food or water, due to lack of advance coordination between security actors.

On 30 October, the Humanitarian Coordinator released a press statement noting that the decision to close and consolidate camps was taken independently of the United Nations and that primary responsibility for the protection and welfare of IDPs rests with national authorities. The United Nations continues to coordinate with the Government on humanitarian issues.

Humanitarian organizations are working to ensure that IDPs who have newly left camps, as well as other Iraqis who are already displaced (outside camps) or have returned home but remain vulnerable, have access to necessary support, based on assessed need and humanitarian principles.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Displacement Tracking Matrix estimates that of the 436 households that left Al-Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala and Kerbala between 18-30 October, 45 per cent have become secondarily displaced in other non-camp locations. Not all IDPs were able to successfully return to their areas of origin due to the barriers described above, among others. Protection actors catalogued a number of concerns regarding the camp closure process, including a lack of consultation with affected IDPs, significant delays at checkpoints due to security screenings, and limited efforts to maintain COVID-19 prevention protocols. Humanitarian actors are monitoring the returns and are responding, based on assessed need, in both the secondary displacement and return areas.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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