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Majority of Displaced and Returnee Families in Iraq Struggle to Rebuild Lives According to IOM Bi-Annual Report - Food and access to work remain the most pressing needs of families that were forced to flee their homes during the sectarian violence that followed the 2006 Samarra mosque bombing in Iraq according to an IOM bi-annual review of displacement and return, released today.
According to the Review of Displacement and Return in Iraq long-term solutions are still needed for families who have been displaced for years, and ongoing support for those returning to their communities is crucial to ensuring successful reintegration.
The report reveals that, despite security improvements since 2006, life for many of Iraqs internally displaced (IDP) and returnee families remains a struggle, due to a lack of sufficient access to basic services and work opportunities.
Some families returning to their neighbourhoods have secured shelter and education for their children, but many returnees still say they lack sufficient food, water and healthcare necessary to ensure a successful reintegration. Employment is also a major issue for returnees, IDPs and host communities alike who are trying to build stable livelihoods in Iraq. In governorates such as Anbar and Kerbala over 94% of IDP families report that access to work is a priority need. This contrasts with areas such as Sulaymaniyah and Najaf, where just 41% and 45% of families (respectively) cite the same need.
Though unemployment and underemployment affect all Iraqis, displaced families are particularly sensitive to changes in family income. As a result, the latest report finds that many IDP families in Iraq are struggling to satisfy the nutritional needs of their family members amid rising food prices. Health concerns have also been exacerbated in recent years by water scarcity which has deepened sanitation and hygiene problems throughout the country.
Access to shelter is also highlighted as an area of continued concern for IDP and returnee families. Amidst continuously rising rent costs, families without a reliable source of income risk losing their accommodation. The report also highlights that more than 15% of IDPs are living in public buildings or collective town settlements where they are vulnerable to evictions from local authorities. The threat of secondary displacement threatens to erase the progress made by many families towards rebuilding their lives, the report says.
According to the report, female headed households, even more vulnerable to the above mentioned challenges, account for 1 in 8 displaced families in Iraq and have difficult access to health, legal aid and protection services.
This report highlights the challenges still facing the people of Iraq, said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Michael Pillinger. It is crucial for the international community to continue to support Iraqis through this fragile period of transition.
Though sectarian violence and the related displacement have decreased since 2006, ongoing support to displaced families is important to secure their long-term stability according to the findings. The report is based on quantitative and qualitative assessments with 212,000 IDP and 66,555 returnee families, undertaken in cooperation with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and monitored by IOM.
The latest IOM report also identifies changing intentions among IDP families. In 2006, 25% of IDP families interviewed said that they wanted to integrate in their current locations. This year, that proportion has increased to 37%. Those Iraqi families that no longer wish to return to their former neighbourhoods require help to integrate in their adoptive communities, whilst many of those who intend to return home or relocate elsewhere need assistance to do so.
IOM staff in Iraq have been monitoring the needs and intentions of IDP, returnee and host community families in cooperation with MoDM since 2003. This vital information helps IOM, the Government of Iraq and humanitarian partners to develop initiatives that target the specific needs of Iraqs most vulnerable populations. Funding for monitoring activities is provided by OFDA, AusAID, PRM and the Government of Germany.
To access the latest IOM Review of Displacement and Return in Iraq, please visit: http://www.iomiraq.net/iomdmyear.html