Iraq: UNOPS-IDP Situation Report 22 Mar 2003

The security situation in the 3 governorates remained calm except for the Halabja area in Sulaymaniyah, which was seriously affected by the outbreak of conflict with the Islamic group Ansar al Islam, which is located close to the Iranian border.

There have been no new significant migrations from the major urban areas of Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dahuk to the north of the governorates as had been the case up to a couple of days ago. In fact, the return of people to their homes in the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah was very noticeable. However, in the case of Dahuk there has still not been any significant return of the population to the city.

The checkpoints between the three governorates in the north and the GOI territory remained closed today, as has been the case since midday on the 19th of March. Apart from six people who managed to cross to the Erbil governorate there were no other IDP arriving in the north from the GOI area.

As of today all UNOPS-IDP personnel in the three governorates are still safe.

Humanitarian Situation

Erbil and Soran

The situation in Erbil has continued to improve and there is a greater feeling of calm and security amongst the people in the city as opposed to the tension of the previous week. The process of people actively returning to Erbil city after having fled the city for the safety of the north of the governorate can be witnessed quite clearly in the streets and around the city.

The 3 days Nawrouz holiday, to celebrate Kurdish National Day, will be over tomorrow and amongst other things the market should be fully open. This will make it easier to judge more accurately as to what extent the daily life in Erbil is indeed returning to normal.

The serious shortage of fuel in Erbil is continuing and fuel has become extremely expensive.

The pre-positioning of tents and other items in Soran and Harir has been completed. UNOPS-IDP continued to use the UNOPS 2 ton and 10 ton trucks and the four trucks provided by MORAD to assist the project with this process. Following discussion with the transportation contractor, who had discontinued his services as reported yesterday, UNOPS-IDP has managed to get an assurance from him that he is ready and willing to resume the provision of normal service from tomorrow.

The checkpoints on the GOI side of the dividing line remained closed and there was no normal movement between the north and the GOD territory. However, 6 IDP did manage to make it to Erbil through an alternative route.

The IDP, who are located in Soran are currently occupying 11 schools. One school has been occupied by IDP, from the GOI side, while the other schools have been occupied by IDP from Erbil.

UNOPS-IDP continued to provide kerosene for heating purpose to the IDP in the schools, as the conditions there are extremely harsh.

Many families who had fled from Erbil are still settled under tents or plastic sheets (some times in trucks covered by nylon or a piece of tent) along the main road from Khalifan to Haji Omaran, which is close to the Iranian border. None of these families are in need of urgent support at the time being, as they have managed to bring the essential items with them.

In conjunction with JHIC, UNOPS-IDP is going to carry out a general assessment of the IDP situation in areas close to the borders with Iran and Turkey and in areas close to GOI front lines.

The work to establish Delizian tent camp in Soran continued smoothly today. The number of installed tents has reached 200. UNICEF commenced the work of providing water and sanitation facilities, as requested by the project. UNDP has also already started to provide electricity to the camp.

UNOPS-IDP has commenced work on the establishment of Ashkawtawan tent camp in Mergasoor district.


The security situation in Sulaymaniyah governorate has deteriorated due to the outbreak of renewed conflict with Ansar al Islam. Movement to the area around Halabja has been restricted as per UNGCI instructions. Some families are reported to have fled this area to New Halabja and Sulaymaniyah city. Despite efforts by UNOPS-IDP, it has not yet been possible to confirm the exact number of IDP displaced as a result of this conflict.

As in Erbil there is a serious shortage of fuel in Sulaymaniyah and the price of fuel has also risen considerably.

There have not been any new IDP arriving from GOI areas in Sulaymaniyah today and the checkpoints continue to remain closed. There was some information that the last GOI check point opposite Chamchamal had come under attach in the current conflict. It is expected that there will be a significant increase in the number of people arriving in Sulaymaniyah is this checkpoint were to be opened.

UNOPS-IDP transferred 40 tents to Bazyan in order that they might be installed in the new camp to be established there.

The joint team of UNOPS-IDP and UNOHCI visited the Balisan and Qaladza areas to collectively assess the conditions in which the IDP are living there. The assessment showed that none of the families in these areas (700 in Balisan & 1100 in Qaladza) had originated from the GOI controlled territories. They have all been able to find shelter with relatives and so there is no urgent need for assistance at the moment. However, it should be noted that these families are placing a heavy burden on the hosts and this could become a serious cause of concern if this situation should be a long-term one.

In Halshow some people have left the tents they were living in there and returned to the village, as the local authorities had been unable to supply them with water.


The security situation in Dahuk has generally remained very calm. The city of Dahuk was extremely quiet today and very empty. There were only a few shops open and virtually no traffic or vehicles could be noticed downtown. There has also been no significant return of the city's population reported so far.

As with Erbil and Sulaymaniyah the checkpoints remained closed on the GOI side and there has been no new displacement of IDP from GOD territory to Dahuk.

The project conducted assessment in certain IDP locations such as Kane-Mase and Sarsank, which are inhabited by IDP originating from Dahuk and other areas. The Brifka settlement centre -a Habitat settlement centre, which is under construction - has been occupied by IDP who have fled form Dahuk and the surrounding areas. These IDP are in need of water tinkering as the water supply there is insufficient. UNOPS-IDP will make a further assessment as to the needs of the IDP in this and other locations and will discuss with the relevant local authorities as to what possible action should be undertaken to provide the necessary assistance.

The permanent IDPS camps such as, Moqble, Arab Singles and Balqos were also visited by the project team. It was noted that all the management services and the provision of water to the camps by the contactors were continuing to proceed well. Tomorrow, the other camps like Hetit, Balesha and Deralok transit camps, will be visited by the project team to ensure that the necessary services continue to be provided.

The project's transportation contactor has been rapidly responding to any requests by the project for the provision of trucks to carry out the necessary work.

There is no fuel selling in the market and even the local authorities fuel stations are closed. There is only the local authorities left who are providing Diesel for the UN vehicles. The project has started using the office Benzene stock for the hired vehicles.

In Bagera camp, the other UN agencies have still to commence work there following the installations of tents for the IDP there. According to the IDPLO, UNICEF will shortly commence the construction of sanitation units and a water project there. The department of roads and bridges has been tasked by the relevant local authorities to construct some internal roads or yard sub-basing there also.

The pre-positioning of items in Sarsink has been completed.

Coordination Issues

Erbil and Soran

There was a big meeting held today in Erbil which was attended by the Minister of the Interior, the Governor of Erbil and representatives of all the UN agencies in Erbil. The major item on the agenda, which was discussed in great detail, was the role of each agency and the progress of the work in the camps so far. The minister expressed his satisfaction about what had been achieved so far.

UNOPS-IDP has raised the issue of the project providing food to the IDP living in the public shelters and, in particular, to those IDP who have arrived from GOI areas with the mayor. This was felt by the project to be extremely urgent given the fact that many of the IDP from the Iraqi area had come to Erbil without any essential items or food and so were living in very precarious and difficult circumstances. The mayor felt that it would be better not to distribute any such assistance to these IDP until they could be transferred to the tent camp. UNOPS-IDP is commencing with the procurement of essential food items, which can be provided to these people, as an emergency response, until the local authorities or concerned agency can take over the issue.

As mentioned in yesterday's report, the current provision of water by tanker by UNOPS-IDP to the 5 IDP settlements in Soran has become insufficient due to the new influx of IDP there from Erbil and the GOI area. Therefore, the project has discussed this water shortage issue with the Returnees High Committee today. Following this discussion it has been agreed that the project will increase the number of trips by the tankers so as to be able to ensure that there is adequate water supplies to cater for the needs of the additional families now located in these settlements.

Following discussion with UNOPS-IDP, Habitat is going to hand over its stock of tents in Erbil (500 tents) to the project in order that they might be used in the establishment of camps. The tents will be transferred tomorrow from the Habitat warehouse in Erbil to the UNOPS warehouse in Soran.

Three tents had been installed in a kindergarten in Soran that is occupied by juveniles. The juveniles had been transferred to Soran from the reformatory centre in Erbil in order to provide more space for the children in the reformatory who had been living in a highly overcrowded and cramped environment there. This action was taken following concerns raised by UNICEF and SC-UK as to this situation. ICRC also provided other relief items such as blankets and kerosene heaters to the centre.


A coordination meeting was organized for the OICs of UNOHCI, UNICEF, WFP, HABITAT and UNOPS so that possible responses to any emergency situation, which might occur in the coming days, could be discussed and the agencies could also be informed as to the information that UNOHCI is receiving from the local authorities.

UNOPS-IDP held a meeting with the Mayor (Mr. Aso) so as to obtain any new information about IDP and regarding the ongoing conflict with Ansar al Islam. The mayor confirmed that no new IDPs had arrived from the GOI territory. He said that the conflict with Ansar Al Islam had resulted in 200 casualties and that some families had fled towards Iran and others to Halabja.

At the same meeting the mayor of Bazyan affirmed that his office is prepared to assume the responsibility of maintaining security of the camp.


A meeting was held with the Habitat representative, at which both organizations agreed to work together and cooperate in any way possible to assist IDP in the current situation. UNOPS-IDP also met with the IDP Liaison Office (IDPLO) to discuss the current situation and which actions needed to be taken most urgently.


The UNOPS-IDP teams are in constant contact with their local partners and the local authorities in all three governorates.

Access/Protection Issues

In general the security situation has remained calm except for the outbreak of hostilities in the Halabja area, Sulaymaniyah

There was no conformation as to the reports that Turkish troops had moved into the Dahuk area. The border with Turkey is still closed except for diplomatic and press missions. The security set up for the Dahuk and other towns and districts is still in force and is well organised.

Issues Requiring Follow-Up


Any Other Business


Additional Information

Table 1: Summary of registered new arrivals in the north from GOI territory

Total number of persons
Total per Day
Table 2: Current Pre-positioning Status of UNOPS-IDP Non Food Items and Tents in the three northern Governorates and Partners in the Field
Packages of Relief Items
Kerosene/ gasoline 12,000 litres of each
Kerosene/ diesel 12,000 litres of each
Kerosene/ diesel 15,000 litres of each

1. KRO -- Kurdish Reconstruction Organisation
2. IRCS - Iraqi Red Crescent Society
3. KSC - Kurdistan Save The Children