Iraq Protection Cluster: Ninewa Returnees Profile - March 2018

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 31 Mar 2018


The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) reports that 17,882 families (107,292 individuals) returned in March. In addition to the return of IDPs, 128 Iraqi asylum-seekers returned from neighbouring Turkey and Syria.

The month of March brought new security challenges for the residents and displaced population of North Ninewa as a result of the latest developments in Syria. The tense security environment, coupled with the ethnic, religious, and political divide along the disputed boundaries of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I) reportedly negatively affects the population’s sense of safety, a key determinant for returns and new displacements. The recently retaken areas have reportedly not been fully cleared of unexploded ordnances, with schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, electrical power stations and water treatment plants reportedly contaminated by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). Areas of return have heavily damaged buildings and structures. The protection environment in these areas remains precarious given the presence of armed groups, road and neighbourhood closures, checkpoints, curfews, military operations, and the fear of acts of retaliation against the local population.

The latest return intention assessments conducted by UNHCR protection partner indicates that out of the 7,000 assessed individuals currently displaced in camps and in non-camp locations within the Dohuk governorate, 93 per cent of the surveyed population displaced from Northern Ninewa (mainly Sinjar and Telafar districts) do not intend to return to their areas of origin in the near future, with the majority citing the lack of basic services as the reason for not returning. Pre-return assessments conducted among the 98 families that returned from Garmawa camp in the month of March indicate that while some of the returning families had been in contact with members of their household and/or extended family in the areas of return to verify their property and conditions in the areas of return, a larger number of IDPs (approximately 91 per cent) had little knowledge about the living conditions in their area of return. According to the information collected during the assessment, the main push factors for return relate to the poor living conditions and limited access to livelihood opportunities in the areas of displacement.

As the return process remains relatively unstructured, it has been challenging for humanitarian actors to adequately plan the response and prioritize the needs. While recognizing the responsibility of authorities to ensure the safety and security of returns, humanitarian agencies continue to emphasize the importance of establishing clear procedures for security screening. Protection partners are focusing on the provision of available information on the situation in area(s) of return.