WHERE THE HEART IS: Five Years of Shelter Interventions in Iraq | IOM
22 February 2023
There is a commonly uttered proverb that tells us “Home is where the heart is”. Adequate housing can be the basis of stability for individuals and families; in the best of circumstances, homes should be sanctuaries where one can find safety and comfort, including access to basic services. Although increasingly viewed as a commodity in many contexts, access to adequate housing is a fundamental right – inscribed in international law.
During the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it is estimated that six million people were displaced internally. As part of the group’s reign of terror in Iraq, ISIL carried out widespread destruction of infrastructure and, crucially, housing.
Housing destruction remains one of the biggest obstacles to return faced by Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDPs). Lack of safe, dignified housing can make sustainable returns extremely difficult, also posing challenges in terms of protection, putting women and girls in particular at risk of gender-based abuse; it also causes additional hardship for households including elderly relatives and persons with disabilities.
Since 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been carrying out housing repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in conflict-affected areas across Iraq. These are part of broader humanitarian efforts to support people to have access to adequate shelter during periods of displacement, and to contribute to durable returns, so that highly vulnerable families can seek solace in adequate shelter conditions, while they grapple with post-conflict realities and re-establish their lives.
As of November 2022, with generous funding assistance from the United States Government and in collaboration with local partners, IOM Iraq has supported over 15,000 families to access adequate housing through repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance. We are grateful for these collaborations that allow us to continue supporting access to durable solutions for those still in displacement, as Iraq focuses on its post-conflict recovery.
In cooperation with the Government of Iraq and local communities, IOM will continue to implement innovative, comprehensive projects in areas of return and relocation to assist the sustainable reintegration of IDPs, through shelter rehabilitation, livelihood support, improved access to basic social services and peacebuilding initiatives.