Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction’s Numbers for Iraq’s Internally Displaced

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its latest report on July 30. The paper contains some of the most up to date numbers for Iraq’s refugees and their displacement within the country. It said as of May 2008 the United Nations reported 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis. 1.2 million of them came before the February 2006 Samarra bombing that started the sectarian war, and 1.5 million were afterwards. More than half, 64% came from Baghdad, the center of the fighting. When the report gave a specific breakdown of where the displaced were province by province provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) however, there was a large discrepancy with the U.N. The USAID counted only about 1.6 million displaced Iraqis. The June 2008 International Crisis Group report on Iraqi refugees in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan pointed out that there are very different numbers depending upon the source and audience for Iraqi refugees, so this could be an example of that.

According to the USAID, these are the number of displaced Iraqis that are living in each province as of June 29, 2008:

The numbers before each province below correlate to the numbers on the map above.

8. Muthanna 18,351
9. Qadisiya 26,320
16. Irbil 31,783
17. Tamim 36,202
6. Basra 36,718
2. Salahaddin 45,762
5. Maysan 46,948
7. Dhi Qar 47,825
11. Karbala 55,962
12. Najaf 58,032
13. Anbar 64,536
4. Wasit 75,325
10. Babil 77,914
18. Sulaymaniyah 79,672
3. Diyala 103,425
15. Dahuk 104,948
14. Ninewa 106,750
1. Baghdad 563,771

TOTAL: 1,579,244

In 2008 a small number of Iraqis began to return. In March 2008 the government claimed that 13,030 families had come back to their homes, 83% were internally displaced, and 17% were international refugees. 4,300 of them went back to Baghdad.

In July 2008 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the National Policy to Address Displacement, which is aimed at returning up to 100,000 families by the end of the year. The government has promised $195 million for the project. The Special Inspector General’s report criticized the policy as lacking long-term planning, sufficient aid, and services. For example, families that have returned can ask for $150 for six months from the government, but the process is slow and hard to get through, which means some families may not get the promised assistance. A similar criticism was made by the International Crisis Group, and by the head of Parliament’s Displaced and Migration committee. Baghdad has consistently failed to provide basic services to its people since the U.S. invasion because of corruption, lack of trained staff, sectarianism, and a slow, paper based bureaucracy held over from Saddam’s days. All of these will hinder the government’s refugee policy.


International Crisis Group, “Failed Responsibility: Iraqi Refugees In Syria, Jordan and Lebanon,” 7/10/08

IRIN, “Iraq announces incentives to encourage return of IDPs, refugees,” 7/23/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/08

Voices of Iraq, “Lack of services, financial support make life difficult for returnees,” 7/31/08

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