Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, February 01, 2007

IOM releases report on Iraqi refugee crisis

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which released Iraqi Displacement 2006: Year in Review today, confirmed that in addition to the 1.2 million Iraqis displaced before last January, more than 300,000 have been displaced since the beginning of IOM’s research on February 22, 2006. Correspondingly, roughly one thousand Iraqis have been displaced in the past month alone. The IOM study, which was conducted by an Iraqi representative of the organization, used Rapid Assessment Templates to assess a variety of needs of the internally displaced families and groups.
Fear, which has been heightened by the unrelenting insurgency, resultant sectarian violence, and widespread crime, is the major reason for the mass exodus.

The fact that most refugees are fleeing mixed communities for sanctuary in more homogenous communities is rapidly polarizing the nation. If given the option, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) relocate to family members’ residences. However, if no such opportunity exists, families often settle in abandoned public buildings and makeshift houses; collective towns have developed in some of the southern governorates. These shelters are typically overcrowded and lacking in basic necessities and access to fuel. While IDPs generally look to return to their original residences, IOM estimates indicate that only 45% of Iraqi IDPs plan to return; many believe that the government or other individuals have taken over their land and homes, and without any legal statute reclamation will be difficult. Accordingly, 25% plan to stay at their current location and 28% plan to relocate to a third location.

While shelter is of the highest priority, food and employment directly follow. Although pledges of assistance have been made, many refugees have yet to receive promised allotments of food. As the Iraq conflict enters a fifth year, donor fatigue could not have set in at a worse time. The need for humanitarian relief has increased drastically, but needed aid has lessened.

Iraqi children are the most vulnerable demographic. As more and more women are widowed; not only are these household burdened with financial hardships, due to the rouge militia and religious fundamentalism, many women are unable to find work. Prostitution and child-labor are on the rise, malnutrition remains a major concern, and needed vaccinations are difficult to obtain. Additionally, women are being forced to give birth at home.

Additionally, many professionals are fleeing - resulting in a dearth of domestic resources.

Although IOM is working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MODM) in Iraq, the instability within many parts of Iraq, particularly the central areas, remain too dangerous for effective change to be cultivated.

For the full report, click here.


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