UN Migration Agency Supports Displaced Iraqis in Critical Shelters Improving their Living Conditions
Erbil – As the displacement of more than 3.2 million people continues in Iraq, the UN Migration Agency is improving the housing conditions of vulnerable displaced persons living outside camps such as in critical shelter arrangements.
Currently, across Iraq, 12 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in critical shelters, while 24 per cent are in camps, 49 per cent in private settings, and the housing situation of 14 per cent is unknown. Of the IDPs in critical shelters (413,000 displaced individuals) there are more than 206,000 in unfinished buildings, 100,000 in informal settlements, 86,000 in religious buildings and 11,000 in school buildings.
In the past year, since September 2016, IOM Iraq’s Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) team has assisted nearly 1,500 families (9,000 individuals) living in 135 displacement sites outside formal camps. Activities are carried out across the governorates of Anbar, Baghdad, Erbil, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din in cooperation with the Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government and local authorities.
IOM’s CCCM programme in Iraq includes the rehabilitation and construction support for informal sites, training in site management skills, and providing guidance to affected communities to set up adequate structures. CCCM maintenance activities include fixing windows and doors, rewiring electricity, erecting partitions for privacy, and rehabilitating latrines. These repairs and structures improve living conditions for the vulnerable populations in these sites, which range in size from five to 50 families.
“Our building was in a poor state, with rudimentary conditions. The IOM team fixed the roof, floor and electric system, and added a water tank and latrine,” said Abu Ahmed, who had been displaced twice in the past two years along with his wife and three children, and finally settled in Baghdad.
“They guided us to nominate site leaders and set up committees of youth and women and for maintenance focal points – who can address and refer concerns,” he added. Abu Ahmed and his family fled first from Talafar and then from Sinjar; they now live in an unfinished building with six other families in Al-Madaen, Al Wihda, Baghdad.
Families living in critical shelter sites receive hygiene kits, fire extinguishers, basic medical equipment and fans; the beneficiaries are also provided with vocational training and tools to maintain and enhance their shelters.
Site residents are offered opportunities for on-the-job trainings in electricity wiring, piping, repairing water and sanitation infrastructure and garbage disposal. They are also offered a range of trainings in site management skills including registration and reception of new arrivals, identification of special needs for medical care or other referrals, as well as site care and maintenance.
“Attending sessions about firefighting, life skills, health issues, first aid and safety help us to improve our living conditions and equip us to face challenges,” said Ibrahim, a 20-year-old who was twice uprooted by ISIL along with his parents and younger brother, from Abu Ghraib and then Tikrit, before settling in an unfinished building with five other families in Al-Yusufiya, Baghdad governorate.
“Since we were displaced, our family has not had the money to pay for our education; my brother and I appreciate these learning opportunities,” added Ibrahim.
IOM’s CCCM team in Anbar provides similar services in 15 of the governorate’s formal camps, responding to the needs nearly 4,500 displaced families as well as protracted internally displaced persons.
CCCM activities at eight of the 15 sites in Anbar, reaching nearly 1,880 families, and in 55 of the 135 displacement sites, are funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). IOM Iraq CCCM activities are also funded by the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), UK Department for International Development (DFID), European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Government of Canada.
Video on CCCM in Erbil site produced by Raber Aziz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddpTPPB0aYM.
For more information please contact IOM Iraq:
Sandra Black, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: email@example.com or
Raber Aziz, Tel: +964 750 465 9204, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last four years, brothers Haytham and Jalal and their families lived in a small two-room house made of cinder blocks and mud, with collapsing walls and a shaky roof, on a farm on the outskirts of Erbil. Their living conditions were harsh, but they feel more secure than in the situation they suffered in Babylon.
“We fled long before the emergence of ISIL in Iraq. The militias threatened, abducted and killed people. We stayed in Babylon despite the odds, until they captured my brother, beheaded him and threatened to do the same with us. We packed up and fled, leaving behind our houses and everything that we couldn’t carry,” said Haytham.
Six families, from Babylon and Salah al-Din governorates, now live on this farm and take care of it in return for accommodations and a modest monthly salary.
IOM Camp Management staff was alerted to the family’s situation, and identified the need for maintenance works and additional rooms.
Before improvements, Haytham explained, “I have seven children, and my brother has three. There isn’t enough space for all of us. Besides, the house leaks when it rains; you can see holes in the roof and it is almost collapsing. However, our biggest problem in this mud house is scorpions, not the collapsing roof. I think we have broken the record of the most scorpion-stung family. We have been stung so many times that we are becoming famous at Rizgary emergency hospital in Erbil. My wife has been stung at least three times and my eldest daughter twice. I was stung only once, but all my other children have been stung once or twice at least.”
IOM provided the bricks and mortar to construct a new house and installed a new latrine. IOM engineers worked with the family to provide technical guidance, while involving the adult family members throughout the construction and maintenance process.
“This new house gives us more space. And because it is made of good material, we will be done with scorpions. My family and I thank IOM for the help they provided,” said Haytham.