Statement from the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Irena Vojackova-Sollorano (pictured), on IDP camp closures in Iraq:
I am gravely concerned about the thousands of civilians who have been moved from camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq in the last six weeks and have not yet found new homes.
The Government of Iraq has closed or consolidated 11 such camps and reclassified two as informal sites since mid-October, affecting more than 27,000 people. An estimated 78 per cent of those are women and children who were already vulnerable. Their wellbeing is of particular concern in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of winter.
This is not about camp closures. It is about what will happen to those Iraqis, their safety, their wellbeing and their future. Two-thirds of affected people have reached their district of origin, but many are not in their traditional homes, according to United Nations data. About 30 per cent of those returnees do not have safe or dignified housing and remain highly vulnerable.
The other one- third of people affected have been unable to return to their places of origin. Social tensions and insecurity, the presence of unexploded ordnances and explosive remnants of war, and the lack of civil documentation, housing, services, cash assistance and livelihood opportunities remain barriers to their return.
I am also concerned by indications that more Iraqi families could face similar situations if the remaining five camps administered by the Government of Iraq are closed before the end of the year. The United Nations shares the Government's goal of ending the displacement crisis in Iraq but reiterates that the return of internally displaced people needs to be voluntary, safe, dignified, and informed, with conditions in place in advance in their areas of origin to enable reintegration and ensure sustainable solutions.
The United Nations stands by its commitment to support the Government of Iraq in facilitating and achieving longer term durable solutions for all vulnerable displaced and returnees in Iraq, including by supporting social cohesion measures.
Vulnerable displaced populations need more active support to rebuild their lives in dignity and in accordance with the fundamental standards of human rights. They need a suitable environment for a sustainable return and structured support programmes towards durable solutions. It is essential to continue the efforts to build the resilience of communities hosting IDPs as well as those receiving returnees.
Supporting these populations contribute to Iraq's future stability and success. Together with our national and international humanitarian partners, we are closely following the matter, will continue to support and stand ready to provide further assistance when required, in accordance with humanitarian principles.