In the aftermath of the sudden and rapid advance of Daesh through central parts of Iraq in summer 2014, a humanitarian crisis of significant proportion remains. As Daesh continues to consolidate its control over western parts of the country, a counter-insurgency operation has been led by the government and other regional and international forces. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in three mass displacements, and more are expected to do so as efforts are made to retake cities and towns in the Anbar and Ninewa governorates. Displaced families have found safety in villages, towns and cities throughout the country, welcomed generously by communities and supported by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Whilst more than 458,000 persons have returned to their place of origin, 3.2 million Iraqis remain displaced inside Iraq. Both groups are in need of enhanced humanitarian assistance and protection.
Those who have returned have been driven by government guarantees of improved security and by a lack of access to land, food and income generating activities in hosting communities. They have returned under precarious conditions, without the support required to ensure progress towards a durable solution and – like those who remain displaced in host communities or camps – they remain dependent on aid to recover.
Oxfam has been working to provide humanitarian assistance to over 120,000 individuals in over 40 communities affected by the crisis, including both those who have returned home and require assistance to rebuild their lives, and those who remain in protracted displacement. Oxfam’s assistance includes water, sanitation and hygiene promotion and emergency food security and vulnerable livelihood support, combined with gender programming and advocacy. Recognizing the need to listen to and understand the concerns of those affected by the crisis, an intention study was carried out to better shape the humanitarian response of all actors in the country.
On top of the large caseload of IDPs from the 2006–2008 conflict,9 millions more have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in informal shelters across Iraq, mostly in religious institutions, schools or with host families.10 As early as July 2015, discussions about returns to parts of Khanaqin and Muqdadiyya districts in the Diyala governorate were reported in local media and the humanitarian community. In July, the governor of Diyala and community leaders confirmed government intentions to return families to ‘newly secure’ areas in these two districts, which subsequently witnessed some of the earliest returns in the country. Ongoing displacement of Iraq’s diverse communities are resulting in demographic change. These dynamics have been both a result of and a trigger for violence and conflict. Return movement is now a complicating factor.
Please find attached below the complete CHOOSING TO RETURN? Prospects for durable solutions in Iraq report published by Oxfam.