Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 26 April 2018
2.14 million IDPs remain displaced since January 2014
278,047 Iraqi refugees hosted in countries in the region, with 12,105 Iraqis in camps in Al-Hassakeh Governorate, Syria
646,056 IDPs in Ninewa (including as a result of the Mosul military operation)
59,628 IDPs currently displaced due to military operations in Hawiga (Kirkuk) and Shirqat (Salah al-Din)
44,838 IDPs currently displaced due to military operations in west Anbar
713,281 individuals (149,523 households) currently enrolled in ASSIST, UNHCR’s assistance tracking tool
34 per cent of the 2.14 million internally displaced people (IDPs) are currently displaced in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I) according to IOM. The KR-I has two out the three governorates in the country where IDPs still exceed the number of returnees (Dohuk and Erbil; the third being Baghdad).
Some 99 per cent of returns are taking place to areas of origin in governorates in the centre and south of Iraq and the total number of IDPs in Iraq decreased by approximately 5 per cent (112,446 individuals) during the month of March 2018. Babylon has not witnessed any returns, with 33,906 IDPs from Babylon still displaced within the governorate itself.
Displaced families and people returning to their areas of origin are facing a number of critical protection issues. For IDP families, restriction of movement and harassment or intimidation (including by armed actors in camps) continue to be reported in certain areas of displacement. Reduction of humanitarian assistance, coupled with limited opportunities for self-reliance and unequal power relationships in IDP camps increase the risk and exposure of IDPs to human rights abuses. UNHCR has noted an increase in sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) allegations received through complaints mechanisms. In return areas in Salah al-Din, Ninewa, Anbar and Diyala Governorates, the main protection risks faced by returning families include violations of principles relating to the voluntariness, safety and dignity of return movements, security incidents resulting in injury or loss of life, contamination by explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised explosive devices (IED), rights violations by military or security actors, and concerns relating to intercommunal tensions or social cohesion.
A range of measures have been put in place by UNHCR and Protection Cluster partners to increase protection mechanisms, especially in camps. These include strengthened protection by presence and monitoring in IDP camps and areas of return; strengthened sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response, and provision of specialized services (health, legal assistance and access to safe shelter); reinforced complaints and investigation mechanisms through UNHCR’s activities and the network for the prevention of SEA (PSEA); increased training and awareness-raising for humanitarian and government staff on PSEA and humanitarian and protection principles; protection advocacy at different levels with both civil and military actors, in addition to high-level advocacy with government officials.
A two-day workshop aimed at improving linkages between humanitarian cash assistance and the Social Safety Protection Program of the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) was held on 17-18 April in Baghdad. The event was jointly organized by UNHCR, DFID, MoLSA and the World Bank. Participants included representatives of UN agencies (UNICEF, WFP, OCHA), members of the Cash Working Group, international NGOs and the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in Iraq. The workshop served as an opportunity for the Ministry and humanitarian partners to present their programs showcasing a roadmap aimed at leveraging the capacities of humanitarian partners. This will help support the Ministry in expanding its social protection programs, hence benefitting displaced and conflict-affected households.