Friday, August 31, 2018

More Evidence Iraq Reaching Tipping Point With Displaced, Few Want To Return Home

(IOM)

The NGO Reach Initiative found more evidence that Iraq’s displacement crisis may be reaching a tipping point. It did interviews with 1600 displaced (IDPs) households living outside camps in Dohuk, Irbil, Ninewa, Salahaddin and Sulaymaniya. Most the respondents said they had no plans to return to their homes in the next 3 months.

In the three Kurdish provinces over 80% in the survey said they wanted to remain where they were. 86% in Dohuk, 89% in Irbil, and 85% in Sulaymaniya said they wanted to stay in their current locations. In Dohuk and Irbil only 2% and 3% in Sulaymaniya said they would return to their home areas in the next three months. The main reasons why people said they were reluctant to go back were the lack of security, infrastructure, and services. If those improved it would help them change their views.

In May when the survey was conducted Dohuk was home to 350,232 IDPs, Irbil had 222,738, and Sulaymaniya 154,020. By July those numbers had gone down to 349,782 in Dohuk, 217,506 in Irbil, and 151,698 in Sulaymaniya. Just 8,004 people had gone home in those two months, only 1% of the total. That showed that not only people not in camps, which were questioned, but IDPs overall were reluctant to make the trip back to their original areas.

Dohuk Survey Results

Views on Returning
2% Would return in next 3 months
2% Wanted to move to another location
10% Undecided
86% Wanted to stay in current location

9% Said they had tried to return but were unable

Perceptions of home
74% Lack of security and infrastructure
57% Lack of opportunities
54% Lack of services
26% Lack of aid

Top requirements to return
75% Security and infrastructure
58% Services
38% Reconstruction
31% Opportunity

Irbil Survey Results

Views on Returning
1% Wanted to move to another location
2% Would return in next 3 months
8% Undecided
89% Wanted to stay in current location

9% said they had tried to return but were unable

Perceptions of home
58% Lack of security and infrastructure
56% Lack of opportunities
47% Lack of services
15% Lack of aid

Top requirements to return
73% Security and infrastructure
43% Services
42% Reconstruction
31% Opportunity

Sulaymaniya Survey Results

Views on Returning
2% Wanted to move to another location
4% Would return in next 3 months
9% Undecided
85% Want to stay in current location

5% said they had tried to return but were unable

Perceptions of home
75% Lack of security and infrastructure
45% Lack of opportunities
21% Lack of services

Top requirements to return
57% Security and infrastructure
45% Information about home area
44% Reconstruction
20% Opportunity

People in Ninewa had mostly the same opinions. Only 7% said they would return in the next 3 months versus 81% who said they wanted to stay in their current abodes. The main reasons why they did not want to go home were the lack of services, opportunities, security, infrastructure, and aid. 20% said that they made the trip back, but mostly due to damaged and destroyed homes had returned to their original locations.

Like the Kurdish provinces, the polling results held up. In May, there were 620,628 IDPs in Ninewa versus 602,490 in July, a difference of 18,138. That was only 2% of the total.

Ninewa Survey Results

Views on Returning
2% Wanted to move to another location
7% Would return in next 3 months
10% Undecided
81% Want to stay in current location

20% said they had tried to return but were unable

Perceptions of home
52% Lack of services
47% Lack of opportunities
35% Lack of security and infrastructure
30% Lack of aid

Top requirements to return
55% Security and infrastructure
53% Services
45% Reconstruction

Salahaddin was the one place surveyed that showed some notable differences from the other four provinces. There, 12% said they would try going home, only 39% said they wanted to remain where they were, while 49% were undecided about their future. 27% replied they had gone home, only to go back because their homes were destroyed or damaged. The lack of opportunities, 70%, was the overriding concern, while the restoration of services, 81%, would help change their minds about the trip.

Salahaddin showed minimal people leaving as well. In May there were 184,854 IDPs in the governorate. By July there were 169,518. 15,336 made the trip back, 8% of the total. Like the other four provinces the majority of IDPs remained undecided or just wanted to maintain their current situation.

Salahaddin Survey Results

Views on Returning
12% Would return in next 3 months
39% Want to stay in current location
49% Undecided

27% said they had tried to return but were unable

Perceptions of home
70% Lack of opportunities
55% Lack of security and infrastructure
39% Lack of services
21% Lack of aid

Top requirements to return
81% Services
53% Reconstruction
50% Security and infrastructure
31% Opportunity
17% Food

Other groups working with Iraq’s displaced have found similar conclusions as the Reach Initiative survey did. Since the start of 2018 the number of people going home has steadily decreased. Originally, NGOs were hoping that the opposite would happen. With the war against the Islamic State over they believed the number of IDPs going home would greatly increase. Instead, the lack of rebuilding, services, and jobs along with the continued insurgency in central Iraq have deterred many of the remaining displaced from making the decision to go home. By the end of the year, most of those that want to go back will likely have done so or at least tried, leaving a large population simply accepting their current situation and trying to create a new life where they are. This is sadly reminiscent of the end of the civil war period when over one million IDPs and refugees never went back. The inability of the government to capitalize upon its military successes and improve the conditions of those whose lives were disrupted by the wars is a major falling of Iraq.

SOURCES

OCHA, “Iraq: Internally displaced people by governorate (as of 31 May 2018),” 5/31/18

Reach Initiative, “Intentions Survey: Out-of-Camp IDPs Dahuk Governorate, Iraq,” May 2018
- “Intentions Survey: Out-of-Camp IDPs Erbil Governorate, Iraq,” May 2018
- “Intentions Survey: Out-of-Camp IDPs Ninewa Governorate, Iraq,” May 2018
- “Intentions Survey: Out-of-Camp IDPs Salah al-Din Governorate, Iraq,” May 2018
- “Intentions Survey: Out-of-Camp IDPs Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Iraq,” May 2018
- “Iraq: Majority of IDPs living outside of displacement camps have no intention of returning home – Findings from Dahuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Sulaymaniyah,” 8/29/18

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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