n the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The Effective Role of Iraqi local Civil Society Organizations in Relief Operations for the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Anbar Governorate
Since we, as Iraqis, are newly introduced to the area of refugees’ relief, and therefore less experienced, and because our government is totally engaged in internal, external, sectarian, and political conflicts, Anbar governorate is unable to handle problems associated with displacement of people, which suddenly stroke its population. We expected that the Iraqi governmental institutions for service delivery to IDPs would help throughout precautious procedures and programs ready to be carried out. However, we found out that the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MOMD) was perplexed and unable to take any procedures to handle the situation. Not only that, the MOMD has just started thinking of solutions and funding in order to solve the relevant and associated plights. Consequently, the problem has been increasingly broadened. Once we sought the international relief agencies, we were shocked with their introverted responses, which expressed uncaring answer to our IDPs’ challenging situations in Anbar; it seemed that the Syrian refugees’ crisis was the major concern of the international relief agencies, and therefore, it preoccupied the entire attention of the public view apart from other crisis of the region.
Thus, some Iraqi civil society organizations in Anbar governorate relied on its limited capacities to encounter the most atrocious internal displacement in Iraq, especially in Anbar. At day one of the crisis, our local civic organizations in Hit, Kabisa, Al-Qaim, and Ramadi launched their field operations and responded to the basic needs of the IDPs; this included adjusting the deserted governmental buildings and schools to shelter the displaced families from Hit, Kabisa, Al-Qaim, and Ramadi. Afterward, the distribution of food baskets, blankets, beddings, and other responses for basic needs. At the beginning, our organizations’ work was uncomplicated and more passionate because numbers of IDPs were less, which is easier to respond to. Our local organizations thought that the problem was temporary and the IDPs would go back to their homes and cities within days; hence, our solutions and procedures were not adequate for long- term displacement problems.
More than one month after the initial launch of assaults, and the resulting displacement troubles, distress of all parties augmented. Situations of the IDPs worsened and troubles became worse than before. Civil society organizations realized that they were almost alone. They sought support of the rich, business people, and volunteers to bridge the gaps of their limited resources, food, and basic needs. However, finding shelters was the most challenging difficulty because places to shelter the large numbers of IDPs were rare. All the abandoned buildings, including schools and under-construction houses, were full of IDPs. Yet, numbers of IDP families were mounting, while there were no places to shelter them. We hoped that the relevant governmental institutions would help in building refugee camps to shelter the IDPs. After constant communication with them, and receiving promises that the refugee camps would be ready soon, we were taken aback with other negative statements indicating that the idea of building refugee camps was not justifiable because the whole problem was temporary and it could be solved soon. Yet, as realized that the government does not support the idea of building refugee camps because this procedure reveals the truth about security situations in Iraq and draws attention of the world to the internal unanswered troubles in Iraq; hence, ignoring the establishment of refugee camps would wipe out the idea of internationalizing Iraqi IDPs’ issues.
Currently, as the burden of IDPs and the organizations is expanded and inflated, and the crisis seems to be similar to regional IDPs’ crisis in other neighbouring countries, we have been watching various associated consequences such as:
1. Growing fears of an outbreak of infectious diseases among IDPs living in poultry farms and buildings shared by a group of families, which also share nutrition, clothing and drink.
2. Begging and homelessness problems have increased; begging has become a very common profession and beggars are seen usually among children, women, and elderly people all over the place.
3. Unemployment problems have also increased because most of IDPs have lost their jobs, while the new sheltering cities cannot offer them similar opportunities to replace their lost careers, which they used to do at home.
4. Most of students of High schools, Intermediate and Junior schools, and Elementary schools have lost their schooling and education opportunities.
5. Theft and robbery incidents and crimes have increased. Such criminal acts are driven with psychological factors such as taking revenge from the community, which is regarded as responsible for the consequences of wars.
As local civil society organizations, the biggest issue which we are facing today is our approach to challenge the escalated crisis that afflicts our communities in Anbar governorate. It is the big challenge that faces us as well as our communities. Although solutions may exist, they are tough. They need to be supported by the international community in addition to consistent courses of action to be taken by all relevant parties including:
1. Conducting relevant studies and reports, and discussing them at top levels among decision-makers, and the implementing the efficient ones.
2. Organizing international and local conferences to expose the seriousness of the IDPs crisis in Anbar.
3. Inviting the international organizations and drawing their attention to the crisis of Anbar.
4. Inviting the Iraqi government so that it takes concrete steps to address the IDPs’ crisis and its associated troubles.
5. Calling upon the Iraqi government to peacefully settle their disagreement with all parties in Anbar governorate and to put an end to the crisis’ circulation.
Actual numbers of IDP families from Fallujah, Ramadi, Garma, and other neighboring villages and districts to the western parts of Ramadi, Hit, Kabisa, Al Baghdadi, Al Furat, Al Qaim, Anah, Rawah, Haditha, Rutba, Balda, Al Awasid, Silakiya, abu Tiban, and Al Jabha, where there is a large number of local organizations:
Hit city: 8200 families living in vacant buildings, under-construction houses, a camp consisted of tents, and with friends and relatives.
Kabisa city: 1700 families living in schools, farms, under-construction houses, vacant stores, and with families and relatives.
Suburbs of Ramadi city: 10000 families living in under-construction apartments, caravans, under-construction houses and compounds.
Al Baghdadi City: 1000 families living in rented houses and vacant stores; some are hosted by other families.
Ziwya city: 650 families living with hosting families
Al Qaim city: 1200 families living with hosting families
Anah city: 900 families living with hosting families and in rented houses
Rawah city: 700 families in rented houses and with hosting families
Haditha city: 1000 families living in rented houses and hosting families
Rutba city: 1700 families living in under-construction houses, rented houses, and with hosting families.
Awasid and Silikiya cities: 85 families living in schools, rented houses, and with hosting families.
Abu Tiban : 600 families living in rented houses and with hosting families
Al Jabha: 450 families living in vacant houses, in under-construction houses, and with hosting families.
Mohammed Ayesh Abdul-latif Al Kabisy Manaf Abdul-latif Al Ani
President / Scientific Biology Association president/ Youth and Sports Forum