Iraq: UNHCR IDP Operational Update, 1 - 31 December 2015

Situation Report
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  • The campaign on 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence took place from 25 November to 10 December, with awareness-raising sessions promoting women’s and girls’ rights organized in IDP camps and urban areas.

  • UNHCR continued to deliver essential assistance to help the displaced families cope with harsh winter temperatures. 108,000 displaced people have received winterization support since 1 October 2015.


Operational Context

According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), as of December, the estimated number of internally displaced Iraqis exceeds 3.19 million, spread across more than 3,500 locations countrywide.
Conflict and violence continue to affect most of Central and North-Central Iraq, including Anbar, Ninewa, Salah al Din and Kirkuk governorates.

Displacement continued throughout Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al Din governorates. Access to safety for IDPs continues to be a challenge across Iraq. Access to many of Iraq’s governorates remains contingent upon sponsorship and many families cannot cross checkpoints and remain stuck at governorate borders. The inability of civilians to access safety is a major protection concern, both on account of being prevented from fleeing areas under the control of armed groups or due to restrictions imposed by authorities.

On 28 December 2015, the Iraqi Government declared full control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. However, militants were still in control of some parts of the city and fighting continued, simultaneously trapping some civilians while others were displaced.

As of end December, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix identified more than 458,000 people who have returned to Anbar, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al Din governorates. Returnee families remain vulnerable as they face a lack of livelihood opportunities, destruction of property, contamination by explosive remnants of the conflict, limited availability of food and non-food items, documentation problems as well as poor access to services, health, clean water and education. UNHCR and the UN humanitarian country team do not encourage organized returns of IDPs in view of the continued absence in many locations of protection conditions conducive to return. However, support is provided to spontaneous IDP returnees whenever it is safe to do so.

Temperatures continued to drop across Iraq as winter set in, with displaced families living in tents and unfinished building struggling to cope with heavy rains and cold. This is particularly challenging in the mountainous areas of Duhok and Sulaymaniyah in the KR-I, where the conditions remained challenging for the displaced, despite the assistance given by the international community.