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Rudaw

Iraq

Urgent reconstruction needed for returning Iraqi refugees: IOM

By Rudaw 22/2/2018
 Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) based in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region.
Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) based in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq must urgently fast-track reconstruction to assist the reintegration of internally displaced people (IDPs) as they return to their homes following the defeat of ISIS, the UN’s migration agency says.

In January, roughly 600 families who had returned to Mosul following its liberation from ISIS last year decided to go back to the Haj Ali camp because the city continues to lack adequate security, public infrastructure and job opportunities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

“As Iraq enters the recovery phase after three years of conflict, we should remember that real reconstruction of the country will not only be based on rebuilding infrastructure,” said Gerard Waite, the IOM Iraq chief of mission. 

“Provision of specialized support to all who survived the conflict is also needed, alongside reconstruction of infrastructure.”

Almost six million Iraqis have been displaced by the ISIS war. As of January 31 more than 3.3 million have returned to their areas of origin. Nearly 2.5 million meanwhile continue to live in displacement – a quarter of them in camps – according to IOM’s latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report. 

Another 125,000 returnees were identified in January, predominantly in the four governorates of Ninewa, Salah al-Din, Kirkuk and Anbar.

Anbar Governorate has received the largest number of returnees in the last three years owing to improved security, rehabilitation of services and rebuilding of infrastructure.

In January 2018, the three governorates reporting the biggest drop in the number of IDPs were Ninewa (- 6 percent), Baghdad (- 12 percent), and Anbar (- 17 percent). Together, they account for almost two-thirds of the more than 145,000 nationwide decrease in IDP numbers. 

The Kurdistan Region is hosting 1.19 million displaced Iraqis, as of early December 2017, according to official figures.

The situation for those returning home is still far from ideal, with patchy water and electricity supplies and badly damaged buildings.

At the recent Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, donors from 76 countries, numerous international funds and global organizations pledged $30 billion in funds to rebuild Iraq post-ISIS. 

The amount is only about a third of what Iraq was seeking, however. Officials from Baghdad have estimated that rebuilding the country devastated by the war with ISIS will take between $80 and $100 billion. 

At the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced a program to speed up reconstruction. 

The UN has appealed for $482 million for the first year of its two-year Recovery and Resilience Programme and $568 million for stabilization efforts in high-risk areas.

Guterres said the world “owes a debt” to the Iraqi people who were on the frontlines in the war against a terror group that threatened the entire world and the global community must now stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people. 

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