From the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme Workshop Summary :
Key points that emerged from the discussion are:
• The response of the central government in Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil and the international community to Iraq’s displacement crisis remains inadequate. There is a need for a national plan to respond to the IDP crisis that will tackle largescale national policies such as education. But political disagreement between Baghdad and Erbil is hindering the development of solutions at this level.
• Return should be seen as one of the options for IDPs, but not as the only solution: While the KRG deserves great credit for its acceptance of such large numbers of IDPs, the authorities continue to operate on the assumption that IDPs will return ‘home’ once conflict is over. Such perceptions undermine displaced peoples’ right to choose between return and settlement. Those displaced by conflict seek to settle where they can find sustainable livelihoods, peaceful living conditions and access to services. Experience from other displacement crises indicates that many do not return to their former home.
• There is a critical need to plan ahead for future displacement associated with the continuing campaign against ISIS. The current campaign in Fallujah and the anticipated campaign in Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city and home to some 600,000 people – will inevitably generate further waves of IDPs. Given the proximity of Mosul to the KRI, it is highly likely that large numbers will flee there. The workshop found no evidence of planning or provision for this on the part of the KRI.
• The response must recognize the chronic nature of the displacement, and extend beyond emergency relief. In every year since 2003 Iraq has been among the 10 countries worldwide with the highest count of IDPs. Despite this, insufficient attention and support are 1 When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. 3 Displacement in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Impact, Response and Options being provided to programming that acknowledges the long-term implications of displacement in the KRI. Greater support for livelihoods programming and initiatives that seek to reduce social tensions is required.
• Support should be allocated on the basis of needs, rather than ethnicity or category (IDP, refugee, host): Such an approach is more likely to reduce social tensions and increase resilience. While not presented as an ideal solution, some participants suggested that the KRI should look into the potential to agree quotas for support for vulnerable host communities, as in Jordan.
• The response would benefit from being benchmarked against international standards, as identified in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Framework for National Responsibility, and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.