19 July 2020
Anbar/Baghdad — During the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) more than 6 million Iraqis were displaced from their areas of origin. Nearly three years after the official end of the ISIL conflict, hundreds of thousands of families have returned to their areas of origin; an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement.
In support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network — organized the first round of facilitated voluntary returns for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in situations of protracted displacement, launched today (19/7) and continuing tomorrow (20/7). Over 50 households will receive support to return from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin in Anbar Governorate. This activity is the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq.
“I would like to thank all who contributed to this project, reconstructed homes that were destroyed during ISIL occupation, and brought smiles back to the faces of children who have experienced the ordeal of displacement,” said Mrs Evan Faeq Jabro, Minister of Migration and Displacement, on Sunday. “Our Ministry is determined to end displacement as soon as possible; this goal will not be achieved unless we overcome the obstacles to return of displaced families.”
IOM Iraq worked closely with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, the Directorate of Mine Action and local authorities in Anbar. IOM also collaborated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Norwegian Peoples’ Aid, and local organizations including the NGO Dary.
“Many displaced families living in camps will benefit from this program and it will encourage other displaced families to return to their areas of origin. In order to turn the page on this painful period in Anbar’s history, we must continue to find long-term solutions for IDPs,” said Dr Ali Farhan, Governor of Anbar.
“The process of actively supporting displaced families to safely depart camps and return to their areas of origin represents a landmark in the way the international community can reinforce the government’s efforts to assist IDPs,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “While voluntariness is a necessary condition of these activities, we must also be conscious of what these families and communities will need so that their returns are sustainable.”
The current pilot phase of this initiative, organized closely with the Iraqi government, is expected to reach nearly 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive similar support in Anbar and Ninewa Governorates; it will also engage vulnerable host community, returnee, and IDP households in the respective areas of return.
Project activities consist of two phases — pre-departure and transition — that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return. Services tied to the process will take place at the household and community levels, including protection; housing repair and reconstruction; debris removal from damaged areas; livelihood assistance; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation cash grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support. These activities follow international and Iraqi standards — IOM Iraq and its partners seek to ensure that the returns are voluntary, informed, dignified and safe at all times.
The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return. IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns (via bulk SMS messages related to feedback helplines). Temperature checks will be completed on both days, as part of the duty of care processes put in place for returnees.
IOM Iraq’s efforts to promote voluntary, safe, dignified and informed solutions to displacement are supported by a number of international partners, most notably the United States Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration.
U.S. Embassy Baghdad Chargé d’Affaires Brian McFeeters underscored the value of American support for IOM, saying, « the United States is deeply committed to the welfare of the world’s most vulnerable people, including families displaced in Iraq, and their communities of origin. Supporting these communities and populations is part of supporting Iraq’s stability and success. »
This initiative is part of broader joint efforts, with NGOs and UN agencies, to support the government and people of Iraq in ending internal displacement and achieving durable solutions. IOM and numerous international partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq.
For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel.: +964 751 402 2811, Email: email@example.com