ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Coordinator for International Advocacy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced on Thursday that 1,200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 272,900 refugees still in Kurdistan Region remain in need of humanitarian aid.
“Humanitarian assistance for 2019 will cover... IDPs and refugees with a total budget $109 million provided by 39 partners,” said Dindar Zebari, in a statement received by Kurdistan 24.
Millions of Iraqis were displaced when the Islamic State overran large portions of the country in mid-2014, with large numbers still in camps or host communities. Destruction of housing and infrastructure, lack of financial means and job opportunities, and security concerns are among leading obstacles that prevent IDPs from returning to their hometowns.
According to the Zebari, 4.2 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their areas of origin, while 1.7 million have not, in basic agreement with the latest figures published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that put the number of Iraqi returnees at 4,266,882 and those still displaced at 1,665,108.
Of the roughly 1.2 million of them who are in the Kurdistan Region, he said, 79 percent now live within cities or smaller communities and the remainder reside in 38 camps, run and administered with the support of 160 local and international organizations. He added that 490,000 of them live in Duhok, 480,000 in Erbil, and 190,000 in Sulaimani.
Making up more than half of the population of the 21 districts and sub-districts of the Kurdistan Region, the influx of refugees and IDPs have exhausted the KRG's resources. This has compounded existing financial strains caused by the fight against Islamic State, cuts to the region’s share of the national budget, a sluggish economy, and a general lack of economic security.
According to Zebari, for Iraq as a whole, “there are 183 projects prepared by the humanitarian response plan with aimed at aiding 1.75 million IDPs.”
“With a total budget of $701 million allocated to assist IDPs for the year of 2019,” he continued, the national response plan "will focus on various categories such as health, sanitation, food, education, camp management, and security.”
Editing by John J Catherine