Iraq + 1 more

Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 14 December 2017

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Key figures

  • 987,648 IDPs in Ninewa (including as a result of the Mosul military operation)
  • 109,398 IDPs currently displaced due to military operations in Hawiga (Kirkuk) and Shirqat (Salah al-Din)
  • 67,134 IDPs currently displaced due to military operations in west Anbar
  • 566,902 Individuals (119,175 households) currently enrolled in ASSIST, UNHCR’s assistance tracking tool
  • 2.9 million IDPs since January 2014
  • 262,758 Iraqi refugees hosted in countries in the region, with around 11,625 Iraqis in camps in Hassakeh, Syria

Situation update

The Government of Iraq declares full control on its territory. On 9 December, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi officially announced the complete liberation of Iraq from extremist groups, including areas near the Iraqi-Syrian border.

More than 2.8 million Iraqis remain displaced and hundreds of thousands are living in camps and improvised shelters. The official end of the conflict brings to the fore key priorities such as holding general elections, which are scheduled on 12 May 2018, and the voluntary, safe, and sustainable return of displaced families to their homes. The security context remains volatile in recently retaken areas, including sporadic attacks by extremist groups.

Population movements

Over 2.7 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their homes between January 2014 and November 2017. Returns are ongoing including to recently retaken areas in Ninewa, Kirkuk, and Salah al-Din Governorates, where 363,000 people displaced after October 2016 have already returned. Winter conditions, lack of income, and inadequate medical services in camps are the main reasons for leaving, according to returnee families interviewed by UNHCR’s protection partner. Improved security conditions and restoration of services in certain liberated areas have also prompted returns, although challenges remain, such as inter-communal tensions, lack of resources, extensive property damage, and explosive hazard contamination.

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has recently been granted access to the Old City of Mosul to assess, survey and clear explosive hazards including improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war to complement the work of the Iraqi Security Forces. This will not only facilitate rehabilitation of infrastructure and assist the stabilization process but also allow for the safe return of displaced families to their homes.

Response update

Close to 20,000 Iraqi refugees have returned from Syria in return movements organised by the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) between 10 October and 4 December. Since the end of November, returnee refugees are directly transferred to camps south of Mosul, a departure from the previous practice of first transporting new arrivals to Hammam Al-Alil Transit Site, where they receive assistance prior to onward travel. UNHCR is providing shelter, core relief items, and protection assistance to returnees.

UNHCR remains concerned that the return movements do not comply with international norms for voluntary repatriation, and continues to engage with authorities to allow those with families to move onwards to non-camp locations, should they wish to.

UNHCR’s partner has conducted 36,000 shelter assessments in Mosul. The distribution of sealing-off kits and emergency shelter kits is ongoing, with over 21,000 families reached so far. UNHCR’s partner also identified the location for 700 prefab “refugee housing units” (RHUs) and started construction for the cement base in west Mosul, for families whose houses need extensive repairs.