Restoring damaged homes for Iraqi returnees and internally displaced people

Making a Difference, 30 December 2009

© UNHCR/W.Khuzaie
Building Bricks: UNHCR's emergency shelter programme has helped thousands of Iraqis.

MOSUL, Iraq, December 30 (UNHCR) In the summer of 2007, Amina Hussein and her family decided to sleep on the roof of their two-storey home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to escape the stifling heat.

The next thing she remembers is waking up in hospital and finding "my two daughters and husband beside me weeping." The 35-year-old soon realized why. A bomb had detonated near her house, killing her five-year-old daughter. Amina lost both her legs.

Her house in south-east Mosul's Al-Wehda quarter was badly damaged and the surviving family members decided to flee from the largely inter-ethnic violence that was shaking the city. A series of moves took their toll on Amina and the family ultimately decided to return to Al-Wehda.

Nothing can bring back her beloved daughter but today Amina and her family are once more living in their home, which was restored under a UNHCR programme funded by the European Commission (EC). The 6 million euro project has helped hundreds of Iraqi returnees to rebuild their homes.

"There were a lot of bad memories in the house and it was unsafe to live in this quarter of the city," Amina explained. "Yet it was our neighbourhood and it is better than the other areas we fled to." The renovation work was carried out earlier this year by REACH one of UNHCR's local implementing partners.

Ahmad Mohammed is another Mosul beneficiary of the shelter programme. The 40-year-old father of six used to sell vegetables on a street in an eastern district of the city until he was left paralysed when a suicide bomber blew himself up nearby. Ahmad's house was damaged in the blast.

Like Amina, he left for a safer area. "I had to avoid more explosions and save my children," he said. But he also found it difficult to adapt in areas where it was hard to find drinking water, medical care and proper shelter.

He returned to his damaged home late last year and was then selected by the UNHCR shelter programme. The builders started reconstruction of his house last October. "The first time I saw my renovated house [in late November], I couldn't believe it. God knows at that moment how secure I felt," Ahmad said.

The EC-funded project was launched at the beginning of this year and will continue through 2010. It consists of shelter rehabilitation, water and sanitation projects in shelter programme areas and support to two protection and assistance centres in Basra and Erbil which provide legal assistance to internally displaced people as well as returnees.

Work to repair or rebuild some 1,800 homes in seven Iraqi governorates was carried out in 2009. Seven water projects in southern Iraq have also been completed. "Support to displaced people and returnees will help pave the way to normality in Iraq, and will continue in 2010 and beyond," said Jobst von Kirchmann, head of Iraq Cooperation of the European Union delegation.

This project is part of UNHCR's emergency shelter programme for 2009 and 2010. Under the 2009 programme UNHCR has rehabilitated more than 10,000 shelters while it aims to double this figure next year. EC funds are covering 20 per cent of the total shelter costs.

Improvement of basic services such as water sanitation in shelter rehabilitated areas will also continue in 2010, as will UNHCR's network of protection and assistance centres in Iraq. "Needs are immense in Iraq. We are trying to assist as much as we can with the funds made available by donors," said Daniel Endres, UNHCR's representative in Iraq.

*All names have been changed for protection reasons

By Maha Sidky in Mosul, Iraq

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Shelter

One of the first things that people need after being forced to flee their homes, whether they be refugees or internally displaced, is some kind of a roof over their head.

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Shelter for the Displaced in Yemen

The port city of Aden in southern Yemen has long been a destination for refugees, asylum-seekers and economic migrants after making the dangerous sea crossing from the Horn of Africa. Since May 2011, Aden also has been providing shelter to tens of thousands of Yemenis fleeing fighting between government forces and armed groups in neighbouring Abyan governorate.

Most of the 157,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Abyan have found shelter with friends and relatives, but some 20,000 have been staying in dozens of public schools and eight vacant public buildings. Conditions are crowded with several families living together in a single classroom.

Many IDPs expected their displacement would not be for long. They wish to return home, but cannot do so due to the fighting. Moreover, some are fearful of reprisals if they return to areas where many homes were destroyed or severely damaged in bombings.

UNHCR has provided emergency assistance, including blankets, plastic sheeting and wood stoves, to almost 70,000 IDPs from Abyan. Earlier this year, UNHCR rehabilitated two buildings, providing shelter for 2,000 people and allowing 3,000 children, IDPs and locals, to resume schooling in proper classrooms. UNHCR is advocating with the authorities for the conversion of additional public buildings into transitional shelters for the thousands of IDPs still living in schools.

Photographer Pepe Rubio Larrauri travelled to Aden in March 2012 to document the day-to-day lives of the displaced.

Shelter for the Displaced in Yemen

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across Myanmar's Rakhine state, where some 115,000 people are desperately in need of aid after being displaced during two waves of inter-communal violence in June and October 2012. The displaced, most of them ethnic Rohingya, have sought shelter in temporary relief camps and others remain scattered across the state, living under tight security in their destroyed villages. Conditions are harsh: the camps are overcrowded and some lack even the most basic of sanitation facilities while many of the villages are totally destroyed and running low on water. In one village, more than 32 families were living cheek-by-jowl in just two large tents. The children have no access to education and the newborn and elderly are in a very vulnerable position due to a lack of medical facilities. UNHCR is distributing relief supplies and working with the authorities and partners to improve camp conditions, but international assistance is required.

Myanmar IDPs pick up the pieces in Rakhine state

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.

In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities

Posted on 12 June 2007

Crisis in Iraq: Displacement

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat campPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat camp

Concluding a visit to Iraq, UNHCR chief António Guterres met with Syrian refugees in Arbat camp in the Kurdistan region. Guterres noted the recent proliferation of humanitarian crises, but urged the international community not to forget about Syria, "the mega protracted crisis of our times."
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis

This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq.
Lebanon: Fadia's StoryPlay video

Lebanon: Fadia's Story

A former nurse, Fadia found life as a refugee in Lebanon to be especially difficult without employment. She counts herself lucky to be living in a shelter paid for by aid agencies, but food and other necessities are harder to come by. Fadia's is one of 145,000 Syrian families in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq headed by women. Poverty, isolation and fear of exploitation are just some of the hardships they face.