Massive injection of funds needed to help internally displaced Iraqis

No. 3/2007

Geneva/Amman - 15 June 2007 - Without a massive injection of funds to provide critical humanitarian assistance to millions of internally displaced Iraqis, there will be no let up on the large numbers of people forced to flee Iraq's borders, a situation already placing a great strain on the resources of neighbouring countries, the International Organization of Migration warned today.

Launching an appeal for US$85 million, the Organization said the human suffering of more than two million internally displaced people (IDPs) and four million Iraqis in desperate shortage of food was increasing on a day by day basis and needed urgent alleviation.

"If people cannot get help with shelter, food, water, health care or even ways of earning a living to pay for these things because everyone is in a desperate struggle to survive, people will feel they have no choice but to flee Iraq. The situation cannot continue like this. We can and must help them," says Rafiq Tschannen, IOM's Chief of Mission for Iraq.

IOM and its partners have already been providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs in Iraq since 2003 despite extremely difficult security conditions, maintaining a continuous capacity to meet basic and indispensable humanitarian needs of the displaced. In that time, IOM has assisted nearly five million beneficiaries, including IDPs and the host communities, with food and non-food emergency provisions. Since February 2006, the Organization has also been monitoring and assessing the needs of the newly displaced, of which there are more than 820,000 to date.

Funds from the appeal to cover a two-year period would largely be targeted at quick impact community assistance projects in all governorates such as the rehabilitation and construction of water supply, sanitation, health and school facilities destined to help large numbers of people at a time.

The health sector has perhaps been worst hit by the violence in the country, with facilities being destroyed or damaged and because many doctors and nurses have either fled the country or cannot work. IOM has found that a third of the displaced do not have access to the medications they require and more than half have not benefited from vaccination campaigns making them vulnerable to various illnesses and disease.

With shelter having been identified as the overwhelming priority need of displaced people, IOM and its partners would not only rehabilitate public buildings and extend the homes of host families to properly accommodate IDPs to take some of the strain off them, but would also provide construction materials to IDPs to build or rehabilitate houses.

Emergency food and non-food items distribution among the most vulnerable of the IDPs would also have to continue to be carried out in tandem with the quick impact projects as many families, in particular those of displaced people, are not meeting nutritional requirements.

"The most significant assistance we can give to the IDPs is one that provides durable solutions. That is why, alongside providing emergency assistance, we are looking at ways we can help people recover from their experiences in the long-term," adds Tschannen.

Such assistance includes helping people integrate into communities by enhancing their livelihood chances through the provision of vocational training, cash-for-work opportunities or for displaced farmers, getting them access to land to farm and to provide them with seeds and tools.

With unemployment as a whole in Iraq believed to run anywhere between 40-60 percent, competition for jobs is naturally very tough. Displaced persons say it is worse for them, claiming they are usually discriminated against because employers fear that they are a security risk.

Despite a deteriorating security situation, IOM remains committed to expanding its humanitarian activities and finding sustainable solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

For additional information:

Jean-Philippe Chauzy Tel: 41 22 717 9361 - Mobile: 41 79 285 4366

Jemini Pandya Tel 41 22 717 9486-Mobile: 41 79 217 3374,