ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Dutch government has signed an agreement with the UN’s migration agency to provide EUR 3.5 million in livelihood and psychosocial support to Iraqi youth in crisis-affected areas.
The goal is to promote lasting solutions for internally displaced persons and communities of return, through improved standards of living, and sustainable livelihoods and employment, read a statement from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“This project includes support the Government of Iraq including the Kurdistan Regional Government in responding to migration challenges; this includes training and consultations among government bodies in order to assess the current migration trends,” IOM Iraq Spokesperson, Sandra Black, told Kurdistan 24.
She continued, “IOM and the Netherlands will support the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to analyze the migration context in Iraq and identify gaps and recommendations, to inform further development of evidence-based migration policies.”
The focus, she said, will be on areas most affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). Following the eruption of conflict in Iraq in 2014 in which IS seized large amounts of territory in Iraq, around six million people were displaced, while more than 1.9 million Iraqis are still living in displacement, according to IOM.
“While the project’s geographical coverage will be nation-wide, including the Kurdistan Region, the governorates of Anbar, Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Ninewa will receive special focus as they were heavily affected by the conflict, and subsequent displacement and return,” she added.
There are already several IOM Iraq projects in the Kurdistan Region that focus on livelihood activities, health, psychosocial issues, and camp coordination.
“As displaced families continue to return to their cities and villages, it is now more crucial than ever to support and facilitate the livelihood of young men and women, as they are the backbone of Iraqi families,” said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq Chief of Mission.
According to recent figures by the KRG's Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC), the Kurdistan Region is still home to 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, making up 97 percent of the Syrian refugees now in Iraq and 40 percent of internally displaced Iraqis in the region.
Since January 2018, over 10,000 IDPs have arrived in the Kurdistan Region, mainly to Erbil, and have settled in camps, the Director General of the JCC, Hoshang Mohammed, said in July.
Mohammed noted that the KRG continues to assist its partners in helping IDPs and refugees. He also urged UN agencies to keep supporting displaced people both inside and outside camps.
Editing by John J. Catherine