"Where should we go?" - Durable solutions for remaining IDPs in Iraq

Published 14. May 2024
During the peak of the conflict with the Islamic State group, Iraq faced a massive displacement crisis, with over 6 million people forced to flee their homes. While significant progress has been made since the end of active conflict, with approximately 4.8 million Iraqis returning to their areas of origin, the act of return itself doesn't necessarily signify a durable solution to displacement.

Many returnees continue to face challenges in rebuilding their lives due to a lack of support, while more than 1.1 million Iraqis remain internally displaced across various governorates. Despite efforts to address the displacement crisis, the pace of returns has slowed, and there is evidence of secondary displacement among those who have returned.

Recent monitoring by the United Nations indicates high rates of secondary displacement, with many internally displaced people (IDPs) experiencing multiple displacements. Although IDP camps in Federal Iraq were closed between 2020 and 2021, and the Government of Iraq (GoI) announced the imminent closure of all IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in early 2024, challenges persist for the remaining caseload of IDPs. 

As the humanitarian response in Iraq shifts towards more development-focused approaches, the remaining IDPs face specific challenges in finding durable solutions to their displacement, including integrating into local economies, accessing formal education, and claiming government subsidies or compensation. Additionally, some IDPs are unable to move freely from one location to another due to bureaucratic hurdles.

The report highlights the need for sustainable choices beyond simply returning to the area of origin, emphasising the importance of local integration and resettlement in third locations as viable alternatives. Despite progress in linking Iraqis to civil documentation services, substantial barriers remain for many IDPs, hindering their ability to rebuild their lives and achieve self-reliance. 

The report aims to analyse specific barriers to durable solutions for remaining IDPs, particularly those in informal settlements, and to reinforce calls for strengthened resettlement and integration pathways to effectively address protracted displacement in Iraq. Recommendations put forward in the report seek to inform enhanced coordination and programmatic actions of international and local NGOs, Iraqi government actors, the UN, and other international stakeholders to better support the remaining caseload of IDPs who are at risk of being left behind.

This report was written by IRC, DRC, and NRC with the generous support of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).