The bombing of the Al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006 and the subsequent spike in violence and displacement brought to light the need to assess the conditions of these newly-displaced populations. Therefore, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration and several organizations (such as IOM) have been registering and/or monitoring Iraqis who have been displaced since February 2006.
Cluster F (the Cluster for Refugees, IDPs, and Durable Solutions, of which UNHCR is Coordinator and IOM is Deputy Coordinator) estimates the number of displaced to be 822,810 individuals (1) since 22 February 2006. This figure, combined with the 1.2 million individuals (2) who were internally displaced before 22 February, results in a total of over 2 million IDPs in Iraq to date.
IOM has been implementing a complementary, in-depth monitoring project for newly displaced populations in Iraq's 15 central and southern governorates, using templates approved by Cluster F and the IDP Working Group. These Rapid Assessment Templates address a number of issues and needs, including food, health care, water and sanitation, documentation, property, and the IDPs' future intentions.
IOM monitors coordinate with IDP tribal and community leaders, local NGOs, local government bodies, and individual IDP families to locate and gather information on displaced populations. Below is a summary of important statistical information on displacement and priority needs for each governorate. With this information, IOM and other agencies are prioritizing areas of operation, planning emergency responses, and designing long-term, durable solutions programs.
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY ON DISPLACEMENT: CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN 15 GOVERNORATES
The reasons for displacement are similar throughout Iraq: most of the newly displaced are being threatened by means of abductions, assassinations, and direct threats to life. A rise in military operations and generalized crime is also leading to displacement.
The majority of the displaced assessed are renting substandard shelter or are moving in with friends and family, placing new burdens on host communities. Others are moving into abandoned buildings, such as factories, schools, unoccupied military facilities and other structures. IOM estimates that about 1% of the recently-displaced IDPs are moving into short-term camps set up by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS).
The rate of displacement has remained steady throughout 2007, despite various security procedures and plans. There are small numbers of IDPs being reported to have returned. For example, IDP returns are reported in Basrah and Baghdad, and MoDM in Wassit and Muthanna report families who have left the governorate to return home. Some IDPs are returning only temporarily to check the security of the area, retrieve the belongings they left to take to their place of displacement, and/or collect the stipend the Iraqi government is issuing to returning IDPs.
Numerous governorates have begun to restrict or deny access to IDPs. In the central and southern 15 governorates, the governorates of Babylon, Basrah, Kerbala, and Thi-Qar are now only allowing displaced people (IDPs) in if they originally came from these areas, while in Kirkuk such an order has been issued but not enforced. In Najaf, IDPs are now barred from settling in Najaf City. Although these orders are difficult to enforce, they create a more hostile environment for IDPs who must flee.
Information below is based on in-depth assessments of 79,174 families, or 475,044 individuals displaced in 15 of the 18 governorates in Iraq since 22 February 2006. Please note that this figure represents the total number that IOM monitors have assessed, not the total number of displaced in Iraq since 22 February.
(1) Cluster F Post-22 February data based on figures gathered from IOM for Anbar, from KRG for displacement in the three northern governorates, and from MoDM for the remaining 14 governorates.
(2) As per IOM monitoring for the 15 central and southern governorates and UNOPS for the three northern governorates.