Iraq: Humanitarian Snapshot – May 2022 – Iraq


Salah Al-Din: Obstacles to sustainable returns

As Iraq continues its transition from a post-conflict operating environment to stability and reconstruction, the search for durable solutions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) is at the forefront of the considerations of the humanitarian organizations. With an estimated 1.2 million IDPs still on the move more than four years after the declared end of military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), humanitarian actors are prioritizing durable solutions, including return to regions of origin, promotion of local integration in areas of displacement or resettlement elsewhere.

Salah Al-Din is a useful case study of the challenges that remain in finding durable solutions for displaced people in Iraq. The governorate hosts 56,200 IDPs, all of whom live outside the camps; it also hosts 239,000 returnees. Most of the displaced and returnee families in need of humanitarian assistance are in Tooz Khurmato, Balad, Samarra, Beygee, Al-Shirqat and Tikrit. Conditions have improved in Salah Al-Din since 2017; however, significant gaps remain in some districts, including in services, reconstruction, livelihoods and security.

Many displaced people in Salah Al-Din reside in informal settlements in Tooz Khurmato, Balad and Samarra. Informal settlements across Iraq, including in Salah Al-Din, are underserved by humanitarian partners and some face threats of eviction from local authorities. However, many IDPs living in informal settlements report that they cannot return to their areas of origin due to security concerns, community tensions or damaged/destroyed housing. Some IDPs and returnees who wish to return to their areas of origin report that they cannot do so due to the lack of identity documents and other civil status documents.

Many IDPs from Salah Al-Din live in Ashti and Arbat IDP camps in Sulaymaniyah Governorate. There are sporadic returns from both sides to Salah Al-Din, but displaced people generally express their desire to remain on the move, citing insecurity, lack of shelter and basic services. Some displaced people who attempted to return to certain areas of Balad district were reportedly blocked by security agents. This issue requires a political resolution that goes beyond the framework of humanitarian aid. Failure to address this and other lingering political considerations will contribute to protracted displacement.

In 2022, 92,000 vulnerable IDPs and returnees are targeted for assistance by 31 humanitarian actors. UN and humanitarian partners are present in most areas of Salah Al-Din and are concentrated in areas with the greatest humanitarian needs; however, there are persistent access issues in some districts that are impacting the delivery of assistance.

Durable solutions actors are also present in Salah Al-Din; an Area Coordination Group (ABC) has been set up and an action plan has been developed prioritizing WASH infrastructure, electrical grid upgrades, rehabilitation and cash-for-work activities. The majority of these planned activities will have to be undertaken by development and stabilization actors.

In March 2022, the Humanitarian Coordinator convened a high-level meeting attended by government counterparts, humanitarian and coordination actors to discuss returns from Arbat and Ashti IDP camps to Salah Al-Din. Participants stressed the need to focus on social cohesion concerns and the construction of low-cost housing.


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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