IOM Iraq Prepares to Build Emergency Sites for Expected Mosul Displacement

Iraq - To prepare for the expected displacement of people fleeing Mosul during military operations to retake the city from ISIL, IOM, at the request of the Government of Iraq and in collaboration with the Humanitarian Coordinator, has agreed to construct emergency sites in Ninewa governorate. These will eventually provide shelter for up to  200,000 civilians who may be displaced in the first weeks of the military operations.

Military operations to retake Mosul are expected to lead to mass forced displacement creating a complex humanitarian operation. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that up to one million people could be displaced, with an estimated 700,000 people needing humanitarian assistance.

Emergency sites can be established more quickly than standard camps and initially only include basic services such as shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and roads. However, the sites are designed to enable progressive improvements in order to meet and maintain minimum living standards based on the displacement context and timelines.

Four sites have recently been identified east of the city of Mosul and continuing south along the Upper Zab River, which are intended to initially accommodate up to 75,000 people. Site assessments have been conducted, and IOM has committed to preparatory work to establish these sites contingent on mine-clearance.

IOM will continue to work closely with the humanitarian cluster partners who will provide critical components necessary to maintain minimum living standards. As funding and site identification allows, IOM will complete these activities or support partners in carrying out technical preparations for additional sites.

Building the sites will involve four stages:

IOM’s Shelter Team is working with the Government of Iraq and humanitarian coordination cells to identify potential plots of land to set up emergency sites. Once land is identified, IOM will develop an initial site plan. The site plan considers future site improvement and expansion to allow for provision of adequate living spaces and services if longer-term assistance is required.

Once the sites are secured, IOM will begin emergency earthworks, including clearing and levelling the ground and laying roads and drainage systems. IOM will also carry out campsite ground demarcation so the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) and shelter partners can immediately set up tents. 

In order to meet minimum adequate living standards, IOM will coordinate with WASH partners, beginning in the initial phases of the project to install water tanks, latrines and washing spaces.

IOM will also set up spaces that can be used by partners and MoMD to stockpile emergency shelters/tents and non-food items in order for supplies to be in place when displaced families arrive. IOM will also set up basic camp structures including administrative areas and registration facilities.

“These emergency sites will provide critical shelter for people displaced as a result of military operations,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Weiss. “Time is very much of the essence – the sooner we are able to start emergency site construction, the better the assistance displaced people will receive.”

Funding for IOM’s construction of emergency sites comes from the United States and the United Kingdom and currently totals USD 10.6 million. But an estimated USD 14.8 million funding gap remains for IOM to continue urgent construction of additional emergency sites to assist new IDPs.

IOM’s activities are part of larger coordinated efforts by the UN, NGOs and other partners to provide humanitarian relief to those affected by military operations.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Sparks at IOM Iraq, Email:; +964 751 740 1642.