Internally displaced

Internally displaced

Current Situation and Achievements to date

As of October 2016, the number of displaced Iraqis is 4.3 million people, if which some 3.3 million have been displaced since January 2014. In addition, over 158,000 civilians have been displaced due to recent developments in the Mosul region since March 2016. Some 40 per cent of the displaced are staying in the KR-I the remainder are in central or southern Iraq. Further displacement is likely as a result of the military operations to recapture Mosul, and as a result of sectarian violence in various parts of the country.

IDPs face many challenges, including exposure to violence and human rights violations such as SGBV, unlawful or disproportionate restrictions on access to safety and freedom of movement, abduction and illegal detention, ill-treatment in detention, forced encampment, constrained access to basic services, and lack of documentation. Most IDPs live in sub-standard conditions, lack basic services, and face a risk of eviction. People with specific needs – including women, girls, orphans, the elderly, and disabled – are particularly vulnerable.

With the recapture of territory, IDPs may increasingly face pressure to return to areas of origin, including by means such as mass arrests, forced eviction or the threat of it, confiscation of documents, and forcible relocation or even expulsion. The principles of return that is voluntary, and in safety and dignity are sometimes violated cases, while other IDPs face administrative and physical obstacles in securing their right of return. Furthermore, numerous protection concerns exist in return areas such as risks from Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), proximity to conflict, the presence of armed actors, rights violations by armed actors, weak rule of law and governance, destruction of property, inter-communal relations, and limited humanitarian assistance.

Though some 900,000 people have returned to their areas of origin, in addition to the risks outlined above IDPs face challenges such as destruction of infrastructure, lack of transparent housing, land and property (HLP) processes and procedures, reconciliation and insecurity. The standard of treatment of both IDPs and returnees is heavily influenced by religion and ethnicity. In this context, UNHCR protection monitoring is linked to population movements through the development of several assessment tools, including the Rapid Protection Assessment (RPA) and Protection Monitoring Tool (PMT). The RPA focusses on identifying and responding to protection concerns at the community level immediately after a displacement-related incident, is embedded in the HCR-led Protection Cluster in order to place protection at the centre of the humanitarian response, and is an invaluable advocacy tool. The PMT is used to monitor, analyse and respond to protection concerns in IDPs’ locations of displacement. Through the PMT, UNHCR reached more than 300,000 people in 2015, resulting in identification and referral of IDPs in need of interventions such as cash and legal assistance. In 2015, UNHCR continued to provide individual legal assistance and representation throughout Iraq.

Mobile protection teams provided information on registration procedures and accessing rights and entitlements.  In 2015 UNHCR supported the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) conducted IDP registration with more than 380 staff, and technical equipment and support for the digitization of the registration process, as well as capacity-building to improve registration procedures. The Iraq Internally Displaced People Information Centre (Iraq IIC) was launched in July 2015 with UNHCR support and handled more than 4,300 calls in 2015 to connect IDPs with assistance, while feedback from callers identified gaps, as well as accountability to affected populations.

With the roll out of the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) project in Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates, Kurdistan Region Statistics Office (KRSO) became a key partner in the implementation of this area-based profiling exercise. The results of the profiling will inform 2016 and 2017 programming in the KR-I.


Protection and Solutions Strategy (comprehensive)

In 2017, UNHCR protection strategy will be implemented through the following five priority areas: 1) specialized protection support; 2) essential life-saving assistance; 3) expanded access; 4) pursuit of durable solutions; and 5) social protection transition. Each priority is underpinned by protection principles, including a community-based approach, to reach out to more displaced people. Combined, these priorities aim to mitigate the protection risks faced by refugees as well as displaced Iraqis.  The priorities aim to provide, to the extent possible, a protective environment by providing for basic needs and services. 

Cash assistance has become the preferred way of providing humanitarian assistance as it affords people of concern some opportunity to prioritize their needs and maintain their dignity. It will pay a role in UNHCR’s protection strategy in 2017, as it did in 2016. Vulnerable refugees and IDPs living outside camps will be provided with cash assistance to address their basic needs.  Other examples of protection activities to carried out by UNHCR and its partners include: registration of refugees and asylum seekers; assisting authorities to register IDPs; provision of individual legal assistance or representation;  access to psycho-social counselling and other specialized services;  child protection; identification of vulnerable cases and referral for assistance, training and advocacy of authorities and civil society, identification of and support for durable solutions to people of concern including resettlement for refugees and return to areas of origin and local integration for IDPs. There will be an emphasis to transition to local partners and a community based approach through multi-purpose community centres and a network of community outreach volunteers to build sustainable protection capacity in local communities.

Further, ‘Communication with Communities’ will be expanded to enable the displaced’ access to objective information and decision making about their lives.

Activities focussed on improving protection of IDPs and IDP returnees will be categorised as life-saving interventions, protection of particularly vulnerable people within affected populations, and strengthening resilience and capacity among communities of displacement as well as of return. UNHCR will ensure a coordinated approach among cluster members in the implementation of protection activities, with an emphasis on securing the basic rights of people of concern, and with a focus on protection and gender mainstreaming across clusters.

Advocacy with authorities and communities will increasingly secure acceptance and integration of IDPs in communities of displacement as much as possible given the operational environment, the economic situation, and the political situation especially affecting the disputed territories

In 2017, UNHCR will continue to use its lead role in the Protection Cluster to improve protection of IDPs and IDP returnees, whilst building the capacity of national NGOs and authorities at all levels through workshops, trainings, mentoring and technical guidance.

Prioritized Results

Given the scope of IDP’s needs, only the most essential activities can be prioritised even for protection. UNHCR will support IDP returnees through provision of information and legal assistance, and will implement 25 Quick Impact Projects in communities in areas of return with the overall aim of supporting community-based protection, promoting peaceful coexistence, and strengthening community structures and capacities.

Programs will focus on support for documentation and registration of IDPs and IDP returnees by the Government of Iraq, identification of vulnerable IDPs including through mobile protection monitoring and outreach teams, as well as cash, legal, and other forms of assistance to the most vulnerable. In Sulaymaniyah, this effort will be complemented by support for registration of newly arrived IDPs and continuous registration for instance in relation to returns through a joint project with Civil Development Organization (CDO) and Bureau of Displacement and Migration (BDM) (the KR-I counterpart of the Ministry of Displacement and Migration - MoMD).

People at risk will be identified and their specific needs addressed, including women, children, people with disabilities (particularly children), and the elderly. With both ongoing displacement and increasing return of IDPs likely, mobile protection teams will maintain flexibility, reorienting activities as required to meet evolving situations, with a focus on non-camp populations.

UNHCR will provide unconditional, multi-purpose cash assistance to 12,743 families, and will continue to meet the basic needs of newly-displaced IDPs or those who are accommodated in camps through provision of CRIs,

UNHCR will maintain specialized protection services through UNHCR's network of Protection, Assistance and Reintegration Centres (PARCs) and other legal service providers, including gender-based violence (GBV), child protection and legal services. In the KR-I, efforts will be complemented through the expansion of multi-purpose community centres, offering a wide range of services to the displaced population. PARCs will continue to operate throughout Iraq.

Protection monitoring and information gathering will continue in 2017 through Rapid Protection Assessments, community-level rapid needs assessments, and household-level protection monitoring. UNHCR will expand information gathering and analysis through support to MoDM for population profiling at the governorate-level to assess host communities and IDPs, and the needs and gaps in services. As well, UNHCR will cooperate with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Iraq’s Central Statistics Organization on information gathering and profiling.

UNHCR will expand support to the Housing, Land and Property (HLP) sub-cluster through capacity-building, training lawyers already working with UNHCR on HLP issues, as well as continuing to contribute to information gathering on HLP issues through protection monitoring systems.

Finally, UNHCR will support information campaigns on improvised explosive device (IED) awareness in cooperation with United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the mine-risk sub-cluster in addition to other Communicating with Communities activities such as child marriage and birth registration campaigns, participatory assessments and focus group discussions, information about entitlements and rights.

In KR-I, local administration will be supported as they are administering and managing IDP camps. Shelter interventions target the upkeep of these camps. A smaller number of shelter sealing kits for populations living outside camps will be piloted. In Centre and South Iraq, shelter projects will focus on establishment of small-scale camps as part of UNHCR’s emergency response in Anbar. Prioritized resources will only allow UNHCR to establish three camps.


UNHCR led the protection response to the influx of IDPs from Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din, coordinating protection assessments, protection monitoring through mobile clinics, and advocacy with the local authorities on documentation and coordination cluster members and the respective government authorities. UNHCR continued to provide legal assistance to IDPs and was engaged in continuous advocacy with Civil Affairs Directorates, courts and local security to assist IDPs in replacing or renewing civil documentation to facilitate access to housing land and property, including compensation, and access to public services and assistance.

UNHCR assessed the situation of IDPs through regular protection monitoring and rolled out the Comprehensive Household Assessment Tool (CHAT), a broad multi-sectoral assessment derived from the Protection Monitoring Tool (PMT) used for assessing the vulnerabilities of refugees, in April 2017. The compiled total of IDPs reached with the PMT and CHAT in 2017 was 668,881 (138,051 families).  UNHCR also rolled out in 2017 the Assistance Information and Services Tracking System (ASSIST), and captured basic biodata for 410,113 individuals (85,224 families). The implementation of the CHAT and ASSIST support the effective implementation and delivery of core protection activities, including supporting the identification of vulnerable individuals, and referral of cases for legal and other services for displaced population.

Child protection and SGBV prevention continued to be the integral parts of the protection response. In 2017, UNHCR was actively involved in cluster-led efforts to mitigate child recruitment and child labour. During 2017 the Community Outreach Volunteers (COV) network was consolidated, with more than 400 COVs consisting of IDPs, refugees and host community to reinforce community engagement. UNHCR continued capacity building of its partners through trainings and on-the-job sessions – in particular on protection monitoring and legal aid. Returnee-related activities undertaken included returns monitoring, assessing voluntariness, needs for interventions in returnee areas, cash interventions as well as cash for CRIs and winterisation. UNHCR was also engaged in all return forums including on advocacy, interventions and protection updates at the protection cluster level.

IDPs faced increasing pressures to return to areas of origin despite risks of attacks by armed groups, injury or death from explosive hazards and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), presence of militia, tribal conflicts, property destruction, and lack of basic services and critical infrastructure. There were also reports of IDPs being barred from returning to areas of origin over accusations (without due process) of affiliation with extremist groups. Protection teams were deployed and provided direct services in newly accessible and/or recently retaken areas. UNHCR continued advocacy efforts to prevent forced returns, maintaining communication with government authorities.

Protection needs of displaced and affected populations were also addressed through Quick Impact Projects (QIPs). Through integrated social cohesion approaches such as Conflict Resolution and Resilience Building (C2RB) initiatives, communities were supported to understand and defend their rights and as well advocate for themselves.

Unmet Needs

The scale of displacement in Iraq has created tremendous needs which can only be partially addressed by humanitarian actors given the current level of funding. Iraq faces a high volume of protracted internal displacement and the GoI faces challenges in addressing all the basic needs of IDPs. Resources to cover the running costs of all of the camps and requirements for periodic maintenance on a longer term are limited. There is a need for strengthen linkages with relevant development actors to enhance resilience-building programmes, as well as social cohesion strategies in areas where return and displacement are coinciding. Many IDPs continue to have limited access to documentation, despite advocacy and assistance provided by UNHCR. SGBV issues, despite attention of various agencies are wide and difficult to work with due to customs and traditions in the communities.

Key Performance Targets

Indicator Target Result (End Year)
# of PoC receiving legal assistance 150,000 105,950
# of shelter maintenance tool kits and materials provided 50,000 25,078
# of emergency shelters provided 20,000 19,360
# of PoC trained on SGBV prevention and response 8,500 5,955
# of buildings/ structures constructed 8 6
# of shelters repaired 15,500 2,550
# of households receiving cash grants for rental accommodation 5,000 -
# of structures repaired (excl. shelters) 500 313
# of households receiving cash grants 89,000 21,160
# of households receiving complementary items 177,000 23,117
# of households receiving core relief items 174,000 137,427
# of structures maintained (excl. shelters) 68 109
# of households receiving seasonal support 175,000 172,212
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