Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 20 November 2017
- 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
- 3 million IDPs since January 2014
- 262,758 Iraqi refugees hosted in countries in the region, with 29,965 Iraqis in camps in Hassakeh, Syria
Military operations concluded in west Anbar. The Joint Operations Command announced that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook Al-Rummaneh sub-district, near Rawa, on 11 November, and reportedly captured Rawa, the last remaining extremist groups’ stronghold in Iraq, on 18 November. A few small areas remain under extremist groups’ control in the country, after the larger town of Al-Qa’im fell last week.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Government of Iraq ready to resume talks. On 14 November, the KRG issued an official statement saying that it would respect the November 6 ruling by the Supreme Federal Court, which underscored the national unity of Iraq. The statement was acknowledged by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in a letter delivered to the KRG Prime Minister on 15 November. The Secretary-General said that he encourages “both sides to take the necessary steps to create a conducive environment in which genuine negotiations can take place.”
Returns to retaken areas in Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates ongoing. Over 25,000 people (4,200 families) have reportedly returned to 25 villages in Zumar and Rabi’a districts in Ninewa Governorate. In Kirkuk Governorate, an average of 100 families a day are reportedly returning to Hawiga district, in particular to villages in Al Zab and Abassy sub-districts, although basic services and infrastructure remain largely non-functional in the area. Families interviewed report improved security conditions in their area of origin as the main reason for returning.
Returns of Syrian refugees drastically increase. In October, 2,571 spontaneous returns of Syrian refugees from Iraq were recorded through Peskhabour border crossing. This is a substantial increase compared to the average of 712 monthly returns in the first 9 months of 2017, and the highest record of spontaneous returns in the last two years.
UNHCR’s protection partners conduct a comprehensive protection assessment in Tel Jarabia site in Ninewa Governorate. The site is an informal camp established and controlled by Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). Families who left the site and reached Hammam Al-Alil Transit Site (HAA TS), south of Mosul, report difficult living conditions, including substandard shelter, water and sanitation, limited access to food, and restricted freedom of movement. Advocacy to improve the living conditions in Tel Jarabia site, and to relax movement restrictions for the remaining thousands of individuals sheltered there, is ongoing.
Major earthquake hits Iran-Iraq border on 12 November. The 7.3 magnitude earthquake epicentre was south of Halabja in Sulaymaniyah Governorate. According to national authorities, close to 10,000 people were injured, including 550 in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), as a result of the earthquake. In KRI, all critical cases were referred to Sulaymaniyah hospital, which is functioning. Humanitarian partners immediately sent medical staff, material, tents, and ambulances to support local capacity onsite. A joint damage and needs assessment mission was conducted by humanitarian partners including UNHCR on the day after in order to inform provision of assistance to the most vulnerable families in Sulaymaniyah. The KRG reports that the situation is now stable. The government is providing food, shelter and medical assistance, with the support of humanitarian actors. Approximately 1,840,000 people live with within 100 kilometres of the epicentre in both Iraq and Iran.