Monday, August 20, 2018

Displacement In Iraq Drops Below 2 Million

(IOM)
The number of displaced in Iraq continued to decline. The total finally dipped below 2 million in July 2018. At the same time, the rate of people going home has been slowing down. That means the country could be heading towards a tipping point where this process largely ends.

In July 2018 the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported there were 1,953,984 displaced (IDPs) in Iraq. Two months before in May that figure stood at 2,045,718. Eight months ago, there were over 3 million IDPs.

Northern and central Iraq had the most displaced. there were 602,490 in Ninewa, 349,872 in Dohuk, 217,506 in Irbil, 169,518 in Salahaddin, 151,698 in Sulaymaniya, 124,668 in Kirkuk, 90,852 in Baghdad, 74,982 in Anbar, and 62,448 in Diyala. That was a total of 1,843,944 people. The south (Babil, Basra, Dhi Qar, Karbala, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Qadisiya, Wasit) was the home to 110,040 IDPs.

Originally, aid agencies predicted that when the war against the Islamic State wound down and security was established the rate of returns would greatly increase. Since the end of 2017, however the number of people going back has consistently decreased. In the last two months of that year for instance, there were over 200,000 people going back each month. By February 2018 that had dropped to an average of just under 150,000. In March 112,446 made the trip home. That went down to an average of 79,000 per month in May, and 45,000 per month by July.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the lead group dealing with IDPs, noted that the destruction of homes, the lack of jobs and security are the main reasons why people are not going home. The U.N. added there were people who were banned and evicted for alleged sympathies for the Islamic State. It found forced evictions in Anbar and Salahaddin by the security forces and local governments for instance. Likewise, the number of displaced saying they wanted to return decreased as well with only 30% telling the IOM they wanted to go back in the next few months in June. There is even a small process of people who have left displaced camps, and then gone back to them because they didn’t like the conditions they found at home. In July, the UN counted 2,258 families, roughly 13,000 people, had left camps and then come back.

This points to two main issues, which will prevent future returns. One, the slow pace of rebuilding in many areas that were formerly under IS control will mean there are many that will have nothing to return to. The lack of shelter and employment are two major disincentives to go home. Second, the scars from the war have created a large divide in those same areas leading locals to bar people they are suspicious of from going back. There is no national program to deal with this problem, which means there will be a group of people displaced for the foreseeable future. Similar factors played out after the civil war. Then around one million people remained IDPs after all the fighting was over. Many people will be in the same situation this time around.

Displaced By Province
Province
March 31
May 31
July 31
Ninewa
665,910
620,628
602,490
Dohuk
354,432
350,232
349,782
Irbil
232,164
222,738
217,506
Salahaddin
205,182
184,854
169,518
Sulaymaniya
165,630
154,020
151,698
Kirkuk
146,202
133,770
124,668
Baghdad
128,064
107,832
90,852
Anbar
84,552
81,192
74,982
Diyala
78,054
64,674
62,448
Najaf
36,900
30,396
23,400
Karbala
34,680
27,018
23,280
Babil
27,978
25,794
22,818
Qadisiya
13,926
12,882
12,228
Wasit
13,680
13,164
12,042
Basra
8,496
8,046
8,082
Dhi Qar
4,476
4,098
4,086
Maysan
3,126
3,006
2,832
Muthanna
1,800
1,374
1,272
TOTAL
2,205,252
2,045,718
1,953,984

Returns by province up to June 2018
Ninewa 1,498,020
Anbar 1,270,093
Salahaddin 552,984
Kirkuk 296,718
Diyala 222,042
Baghdad 76,878
Irbil 39,096
Dohuk 780

Total Number of Displaced Oct 2017-May 2018
Month
Total Displaced
Difference
October 2017
3,174,678

November 2017
2,883,738
-290,940
December 2017
2,615,988
-267,750
February 2018
2,317,698
-298,290
(2 months)
March 2018
2,205,252
-112,446
May 2018
2,045,718
-159,534
(2 months)
Jul 2018
1,953,984
-91,734
(2 months)

SOURCES

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Returns Dashboard June 2018,” 6/30/18
- “Iraq: Displacement Tracking Matrix – Returns Dashboard, May 2018,” 5/31/18
- “Returns Continue While Obstacles to Return Remain in Ira: IOM,” 6/26/18

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq: Monthly Protection Update (28 May – 1 July 2018,” 7/1/18

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,” Iraq: Internally displaced people by governorate/Iraq: Returnee population by governorate (as of 31 July 2018),” 7/31/18

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