Iraq: IOM emergency needs assessments (post Feb 2006 displacement in Iraq) 01 Nov 2008 monthly report

Situation Report
Originally published


Following the February 2006 bombing of the Samarra Al-Askari Mosque, escalating sectarian violence in Iraq caused massive displacement, both internal and to locations abroad. In coordination with the Iraqi government's Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM), IOM continues to assess Iraqi displacement through a network of partners and monitors on the ground.

Most displacement over the past five years (since 2003) occurred in 2006 and has since slowed. However, displacement continues to occur in some locations and the humanitarian situation of those already displaced is worsening. Some Iraqis are returning, but their conditions in places of return are extremely difficult.

The estimated number of displaced since February 2006 is almost 1,596,448 individuals1. In addition, there are an estimated 1,212,108 individuals2 who were internally displaced before February 2006.



Government and security forces in Iraq continue to emphasize improved security and opportunity for returns, attempting to facilitate the process where possible. In Baghdad, returnees are requested to make themselves known to the security forces, so as to ensure that areas of return are routinely patrolled and kept secure. Overall, returns are continuing at a slow but significant rate, while displacement is still slowed nationwide, limited to isolated events such as the recent displacement of Christian families in Mosul. Returnee families are in need of humanitarian assistance in order to reconstruct their homes and their livelihoods.

In Hurriya neighborhood of Baghdad, the one month grace period usually allowed to squatters before eviction under Prime Minister Order 101 has been reduced in practice to 24 hours. IOM Monitors report that approximately 70 squatter IDP families have been evicted in Hurriya through this process.

Despite increased protection efforts however, there were several episodes of violence targeting Baghdad returnees during the past month, including murders of entire returnee families. Some families were forced back into displacement out of fear.

In other cases, groups of displaced families are looking to return home but report a lack of financial means to do so. In Basrah, Najaf, and Qadissiya governorates, groups of families are seeking assistance to return to their places of origin.


During the past month security in Mosul became a serious issue as tens of Christians were killed, spurring thousands of Christian families to flee. The majority left to safer parts of Ninewa, while some also fled to Dahuk, Erbil, and Kirkuk governorates. Iraqi Security Forces have been deployed to secure the area, after which the murders and displacement have significantly decreased. A small number of families have returned to Mosul, while most of the newly displaced report to monitors that they are not yet willing to return, but rather are waiting for more assurances about security.

As of 2 November, 1,497 of the newly displaced families had registered with MoDM, and there are another estimated 287 families, making a total of 1784 families according to IOM monitoring. The majority of the newly displaced left to safer parts of Ninewa, while some also fled to Dahuk, Erbil, and Kirkuk governorates. It is not as yet clear who instigated the violence.

There are also fears that disputed areas such as Khanaqin district in Diyala could still see confrontation between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish Regional Government's Peshmerga forces regarding control of the area. Although this conflict is currently not resulting in widespread violence or displacement, many humanitarian organizations such as IOM are prepositioning aid in the event that an eruption of violence in such disputed territories could cause new displacement.

Evictions from public and private lands are still a real concern for IDPs. Notably there are 118 families in Kerbala and 28 families in Kirkuk newly under threat of eviction. Evictions of squatters also continue in Baghdad in order to facilitate return.

Returnee reports, along with IOM's regular reporting on displacement, including governorate profiles, biweekly updates, tent camp updates, and yearly and mid-year reviews, are available at


(1) As per figures from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for the three northern governorates and the Iraqi Ministry of Migration (MoM) for the 15 central and southern governorates. See the IDP Working Group Internally Displaced Persons in Iraq Update (June 2008) for figures per governorate.

(2) As per IOM monitoring for the 15 central and southern governorates and UNOPS/UNHCR for the three northern governorates. See the IDP Working Group Internally Displaced Persons in Iraq Update (June 2008). IOM monitors are not currently revisiting pre-2003 sites of displacement, and thus this number is not being updated at this time.