Since August 2014, Iraq witnessed a massive displacement and humanitarian crisis due to the entrance of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and occupation of several governorates of Iraq including Ninawa. The armed conflict resulted cumulatively in more than 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Iraq since the start of the crisis, and left more than 6.7 million currently in need of humanitarian assistance.
The end of 2017 was marked by the Iraqi government’s announcement of defeating ISIL and retaking control of the occupied governorates. IDPs started returning to their devastated villages. However, the returning process has been rather slow. As per April 30th, 2019, the number of returnees is 4,226,882 people and the number of IDPs is 1,665,108; 33% of whom are nowadays accommodated in Ninawa and 24% in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
According to the Humanitarian Response Plan, the number of internally displaced persons returning to their areas of origin has reached 4 million, while approximately 2 million remained displaced. Although major efforts are underway to rebuild the country and jumpstart local economies, significant barriers to return end, including security concerns; fear and trauma; lack of social cohesion; issues related to documentation; lack of livelihoods and destroyed or damaged housing. As return rates level out, protracted displacement and the sustainability of returnees are concerns which need to be addressed, as a growing number of Iraqis are forced to make increasingly negative or high-risk choices in order to cope. With protracted displacement expected to end in 2019, humanitarian assistance must continue targeting IDPs both in-camp and in out-of-camp settings.
Overall, an estimated 6.7 million people in Iraq, including 3.3 million children (under age 18) and 3.3 million women and girls, continue to need some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.