Military operations by Iraqi security forces to retake Mosul city in Ninewa governorate from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) ended last July, but the human suffering and enormous physical destruction are still heavily felt across the country. Close to one million people were forced to flee violence in search of safety. Hospitals, bridges, schools, water treatment and power plants were contaminated with unprecedented quantities of explosive hazards and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were left by ISIL.
Of particular concern is the return of internally displaced people to their homes. The Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Marta Ruedas, visited Kirkuk yesterday, to see firsthand the humanitarian situation, and hear from displaced people what their need the most.
Ms Ruedas met with the Governor to discuss the conditions for the return of IDPs to their places of origin and the proposed consolidation of IDP camps. She requested additional government support to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance where it is most needed, in particular to returnee families, including through more stabilization projects.
The HC also met with humanitarian partners working in Kirkuk and discussed the persistent challenges of providing aid in the region, including continued insecurity caused by ISIL elements, the contamination of return areas with mines and unexploded ordinances, and bureaucratic restrictions. She pledged continued advocacy with Government for support to humanitarian response in Kirkuk.
The HC also visited Laylan 1 camp and met with IDP community leaders and women’s groups to better understand their needs and concerns. Apprehensions about plans for IDP camp consolidation and closure, forced relocations and premature returns, and the mistreatment of women and children with perceived affiliations to extremist groups are routinely raised by IDPs as issues requiring sustained efforts and advocacy on the part of the humanitarian community.