01 Sep 2014

REACH - Vulnerability, Needs and Intentions of IDPs in Northern Iraq - Rapid Assessment Report

Since conflict spread to the city of Mosul on 10 June 2014, fighting across parts of northern and central Iraq has caused an estimated 650,000 people to flee their homes. This latest wave of displacement takes place in a country with one of the highest numbers of internally displaced people (IDP) in the world.1 The humanitarian response, coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has been mobilised to deliver emergency assistance to those affected by the conflict, with relief aid provided by international and national non-governmental agencies and the government now reaching an estimated 1 million people across Iraq.2

The rapidly developing situation has left humanitarian organisations with little reliable information about the number of people internally displaced in northern and central Iraq; where they are, and what type of support they need the most. This report consolidates information attempting to address these questions, which was gathered through household-level assessments carried out by REACH Initiative3 between 3 July and 24 July 2014, at key entry points into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI); displacement sites; and areas reported to have experienced a large influx of IDPs, referred to as ‘IDP hotspots’. These assessments were conducted in close coordination with KRI-based aid coordination structures, which have been consulted and regularly updated on key findings. The vulnerability of assessed IDPs was found to be related to several factors:
  • Absence of family or community networks in current location can lead IDPs to be more vulnerable, as they are unable to rely on support from relatives in safe areas, or frequently are unable to access those areas. As the conflict forces an increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse IDP population to seek refuge in northern Iraq, many recently displaced persons do not have pre-existing family connections in safe areas.
  • IDPs with a different religious-ethnic profile from the host community are more vulnerable. The religious-ethnic profile of IDPs in and around the KRI is becoming more varied, especially in the areas in and around Diyala, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates. The influx of IDPs from varied locations and ethnic groups has the potential to create host community or cross-community tensions, especially in areas with a history of ethnic or sectarian conflict, or where there was severe military repression before 2003.
  • The influx of new IDPs is having a negative impact on the existing IDP populations. IDPs who were displaced before June 2014 are facing greater uncertainty over their future movement and the sustainability of assets as new waves of IDPs impact on rental costs and other expenditures. Similarly, there is a significant risk of greater pressure being placed on refugee populations, especially in the KRI. Further, the rapid increase of IDP influx could impact the ability of previously displaced populations to access services, as well as exacerbate or create host community resentment towards IDPs, or highlight sectarian divisions.
  • The inability to reach safe areas in the north of Iraq, or the desire to travel to areas in the south makes IDPs more vulnerable to the direct effects of conflict and less able to access services. Humanitarian assistance is more available in safe areas, especially in the KRI itself. Those unable to enter these areas are less able to access services, and many make a journey through conflict areas to the south to seek assistance.

While emergency assistance has been provided to many families, coverage is greater in some areas than others. Over half of the IDP families assessed reported not having received any type of external assistance, and food remains a key priority need. A challenge facing humanitarian actors has and will continue to be the delivery of aid in deteriorating security conditions, and the coverage of highly mobile populations in transit to other areas of Iraq. As camps continue to serve only a minority of IDPs, the needs of those staying in host communities, especially in regards to shelter improvement, water and sanitation facilities, and rental support will remain. In both camp and host community settings the need to begin comprehensive winterization assistance is paramount, especially in areas with insufficient or unsustainable shelter options as a result of hurried preparations for IDP influx.

Please find full report attached below: 
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