Qayyarah was retaken from ISIL by Iraqi forces on 2 August 2016 and was declared as the base for future opera-tions to retake the city of Mosul. ISIL set fire to oil wells south of Mosul. Photo: NRC/Wolfgang Gressmann, September 2016.

3-year Iraq conflict drives internal displacement to ‘nearly unprecedented’ level

NRC and IDMC|Published 22. May 2017
The last three years of conflict in Iraq have caused a displacement crisis that is ‘nearly without precedent’ according to a report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The Global Report on Internal Displacement found that widespread military offensives in Iraq caused almost 660,000 new displacements in 2016. One in ten people displaced by conflict around the world in 2016 were displaced in Iraq, bringing the total number of internally displaced Iraqis to over three million. A growing proportion of Iraqis have also been displaced more than once.

“Internal displacement is not solely the responsibility of national governments,” said Heidi Diedrich, Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Iraq. “The international community must support the efforts of the Iraqi Government to help those displaced by conflict in this country,” she said, speaking from Erbil, Iraq. 

A young girl looks out the window of a bus as it arrives in the Hamam al-Alil camp for people displaced from Mosul. - NRC/Wolfgang Gressman.

How aid agencies respond to this latest phase of Iraq’s crisis will help determine whether internally displaced people will be able to rebuild their lives over the long term. This will depend on resources.

The report revealed that more aid was spent on refugee resettlement within donor countries last year than in the countries where displacement crises originate. Overall bilateral aid to least-developed countries, including those with the highest levels of new displacement, fell by 3.9 per cent compared with 2015. Unless we direct funding and political attention to the underlying drivers of poverty, state fragility and global environmental change, displacement will continue.

“To the extent that the Global Report on Internal Displacement holds up a mirror, the reflection it projects is one of international indifference, lack of accountability and states’ failure to protect their own people,” said IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak.

The report also found that:

  • By the end of 2016, there were 40.3 million people internally displaced by conflict and violence across the world.
  • As of the end of 2016, a total of 40.3 million people were displaced within their own country as a result of conflict and violence, some of whom having been displaced for decades.
  • In 2016, 31.1 million new cases of internal displacement by conflict, violence and disasters were recorded. This represents an increase of 3.3 million from 2015, and is the equivalent of one person displaced every second.
  • Of the 6.9 million new displacements by conflict in 2016, 6.6 million – more than 95 per cent – took place in high-risk contexts. In Iraq, almost 680,000 new displacements occurred as a result of nine military campaigns.