• IDP Camp Closures Continue
• Area-Based Coordination
• Explosive Ordnance Contamination
• MHPSS in Anbar
• Iraq Humanitarian Fund in 2020 and 2021
Closure of IDP Camps Continues in Federal Iraq
At the beginning of 2021, five formal camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) remained open in federal Iraq: Ameriyat Al-Fallujah in Al-Anbar, Jad’ah 5 and Salamiyah camps in Ninewa, and the smaller Latifya 1 & 2 sites in Baghdad. These camps hosted 22,200 IDPs, some of whom had complex needs that presented barriers to safe, voluntary and dignified returns to their areas of origin.
After a short pause during December 2020, in January 2021, the Government of Iraq resumed IDP camp closures, starting with Salamiyah, which closed on 14 January. Approximately 900 people opted for facilitated returns to their areas of origin, assisted by the International Organization of Migration (IOM). An additional 7,400 felt unwilling or unable to safely return to and stay in their areas of origin, and opted instead to travel to new locations. A small number of people opted to transfer to the one remaining camp in Ninewa, Jad’ah 5.
The closure of Salamiyah camp interrupted an ongoing project by UNHCR and relevant government agencies to issue civil documentation to IDPs, which may have assisted with return and resettlement prospects. Protection partners indicated that those who had left the camp without the relevant documents may face additional challenges in return and resettlement.
The closure of Jad’ah 5 camp, hosting more than 8,500 people, was announced to humanitarian actors on 23 January, despite earlier indications at both local and national levels that a planned and collaborative closure process could be expected. Camp management partners, as well as governorate authorities, highlighted that many of the residents of Jad’ah 5 had high levels of vulnerability and would face significant obstacles with onward travel and resettlement. Such obstacles include perceived affiliations with extremist groups; the unavailability of shelter, basic services or jobs in areas of origin; the presence of explosive remnants of war; and/or ongoing military operations in return areas. After concerted advocacy efforts by the Humanitarian Coordinator, humanitarian organizations, and donors, the closure of Jad’ah 5 was temporarily suspended by the Government of Iraq. Government representatives indicated they would visit the camp to better understand the challenges families would face if compelled to leave the camp at short notice.
In November 2020, the Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing issued a communication to the Government of Iraq expressing concerns about the camp closures, which was published on the OHCHR website in January 2021. A reply from the Government of Iraq has been received, and also published on the OHCHR website.
In December 2020, the CCCM and National Protection Clusters disseminated Operational Guidance on Response to Sudden Camp Closures and Evictions to support partners in planning, monitoring and responding to camp management, protection and communications needs arising before, during and after camp closures. In tandem, the Iraq Humanitarian Fund made available US$5.7 million in a 2nd Reserve Allocation, to support the response to IDP returns and secondary displacement prompted by sudden camp closures, and to provide funding to families that have faced unexpected returns as a result of uncoordinated camp closures.