Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
September 30, 2011

Goal: To foster conditions inside Iraq that maximize the safe, voluntary and sustainable return and/or local integration of refugees and IDPs.

The U.S. Government strategy to support Iraqi returns has been an instructive guide since its launch in June 2009. In particular, its focus on a coordinated, needs-based, community-level approach has demonstrated the potential to support sustainable returns and reintegration. While returnees have benefitted from these programs, many of the displaced are still assessing the new government and post-drawdown security conditions before deciding whether to return. Many others, particularly those displaced internally, have decided that they will not return to their original homes, and will need assistance in integrating in their sites of displacement or third locations.

Looking ahead, the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), USAID/Iraq and USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) will adapt an integrated approach to new areas, aiming to support those who have chosen to return, and those who prefer to integrate locally, while continuing to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in the region. The focus will be on the most vulnerable of these populations. Maximizing the security and mobility of U.S. Government, United Nations (UN), and other humanitarian workers in the wake of the U.S. troop draw down will be essential to program implementation.

Our work will support an overall transition from humanitarian relief to development, demanding increased coordination within the U.S. Government to ensure that development programs pro-actively and effectively incorporate IDPs and outreach to development donors. We will continue to adapt as available funds and the evolving Iraqi context dictate. Ultimately, we aim to support the Government of Iraq (GOI) as it implements its national displacement resolution and development plans.

The roles of PRM, USAID/Iraq, and OFDA will shift over the period FY 2011-13. OFDA is drawing down, with FY 2011 the last year of funding for Iraq with country programs ending in June 2012. USAID/Iraq will continue to incorporate the needs of the most vulnerable into its development efforts, particularly in communities with substantial returns. PRM will respond to return trends, address needs previously addressed by OFDA where possible and appropriate, particularly for IDP squatters, and maintain assistance for refugees in the region. Joint planning among the agencies will be essential to ensure appropriate coverage in programming. Other U.S. Government agencies will continue to play substantial roles in ensuring a political and security environment conducive to implementing assistance programs.

FY 2009 – FY 2010 Progress Report

The initial U.S. strategy for assisting displaced Iraqis was drafted in May 2009. It was based on assumptions of sustained improvement in security conditions in Iraq, GOI-led efforts to facilitate returns without sectarian bias, and an expanded UN and nongovernmental organization (NGO) role in returns and reintegration. These assumptions have proven true but not to the extent needed to increase voluntary returns. The pace of returns in 2010 did not match that of 2009: 118,890 people returned in 2010, 58 percent of the 2009 total. Those who did return early on were the ones who were able to return fairly easily to secure locations in neighborhoods where they were in the ethno-sectarian majority and where they had access to their property. Absent dramatic breakthroughs in national reconciliation (and related security), and in the ability of the GOI to provide jobs and basic services, we anticipate that the slower rate of return will continue for the foreseeable future.

Since the drafting of the initial strategy, more IDPs have indicated that they prefer to not return home, instead seeking to locally integrate in their areas of refuge. Lingering security concerns in parts of Diyala and Baghdad governorates (origin of 80 percent of the post-2003 displaced), occupied or destroyed housing, lack of jobs and drought in Diyala which has ruined agricultural land and limited capacity by the GOI to provide livelihoods and basic services, all serve to limit return momentum.

Acute humanitarian needs also exist in IDP squatter settlements. In Baghdad alone, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified 116 squatter settlements containing 220,000 IDPs who are particularly vulnerable due to inhumane living conditions and/or threats of eviction from public land. Limited resources have meant minimal assistance by UNHCR and other implementing partners.

In concert with the GOI and the UN, Diyala governorate was selected for a pilot multi-sector assistance program based on its high number of displaced persons and potential for return. Prime Minister Order 54, issued in July 2009, served as the basis for this targeted assistance and authorized the GOI to allocate $32 million in compensation to displaced persons in Diyala, $41 million for improved services, and 10,000 six-month contract jobs to residents of the province, the majority of whom were returnees. Actual distribution of this GOI assistance has been slow; however, with significant support from the U.S. Government, this pilot program has provided 3,500 shelters and limited multi-sector support. The Iraqi Implementation and Follow-Up Committee for National Reconciliation (IFCNR) and local officials were strong partners in the planning and implementation of projects in Diyala.

Since 2009, the Iraqi government has incrementally increased its engagement in displacement issues but more remains to be done. By September 2009, the White House and the Iraqi Prime Minister had appointed high-level national Coordinators for Iraqi Refugees and IDPs. The Coordinators met in Baghdad in November 2009 and issued a joint statement affirming their commitment to Iraq’s displaced and laying out steps to address it. Actions taken by the GOI include developing a draft national strategy on IDPs and refugees and increasing the grant provided to returnees from one million dinar ($800) to 4 million dinar ($3400). In August 2010, the MoDM began distributing a one-time grant of $200 per family to refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, the first such GOI outreach to Iraqi refugee communities in neighboring countries. In 2011, after the political unrest erupted in Egypt, the GOI provided free flights and reintegration stipends of $250 to many of the 2,200 refugees who returned to Iraq.

There has been little success in securing contributions for Iraqi displacement from other donors. For example, despite regular, high-level U.S. Government advocacy with other donors, UNHCR’s 2010 Global Appeal for Iraqis was only 49 percent funded. The U.S. Government contributed $204.5 million, comprising 40% of the appeal, and 82% of the total new contributions. The next largest donor, the European Commission, contributed $10.9 million, or 2% of the appeal. As of August 2011, UNHCR’s 2011 appeal was only 50% funded and U.S. contributions made up 90% of contributions received. Lack of participation by other donors likely stems from the perception that Iraqi displacement is a U.S. Government responsibility and the belief that the GOI has sufficient oil revenue to care for its citizens.

Improved security has afforded the UN and other international actors increased access to beneficiaries but mobility remains a major constraint for program implementation. As the U.S. military draws down, UN humanitarian actors that rely on United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I) for security and transportation will require other arrangements. This will increase UN operating costs.

FY 2011 Programming: Focusing on Transition

Our efforts, supported by FY11 funds and implemented between CY 2011 and 2012, will support assistance to the country's displaced populations while early recovery and development initiatives essential to long-term stability ramp up. Beneficiaries will include IDPs, particularly those in acute humanitarian need, returning refugees and IDPs seeking durable solutions to displacement, which include return, local integration, and integration in an alternate location.

PRM policies and programs in Iraq will focus on: a) maintaining basic humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable IDPs, particularly IDPs in squatter settlements; b) making local integration a viable option for those who choose it; and c) cementing the returns which have taken place.

USAID/Iraq will follow a holistic approach to IDP assistance, focusing on the most vulnerable populations but working with the broader communities to build capacity to articulate needs to achieve durable solutions to internal displacement, a crosscutting theme.

USAID/OFDA through UN agencies and NGOs will provide multi-sector humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations countrywide, facilitating durable solutions to displacement where appropriate and providing emergency response as needed through June 2012.

Please see Annex Two for more detailed information on each agency’s programming plans.

This strategy is based on the assumption that returnee flow will be steady but lower than in previous years, that IDP returns will continue to predominate, and that some IDPs will not be able to or will not want to return to their original homes and will require integration in an alternate location. We also anticipate that local integration will not be available in neighboring countries hosting Iraqi refugees. Within Iraq, limited displacement stemming from violence, water shortages, and floods will continue and will require an emergency response. Non-U.S. donor support will continue to decrease in the absence of a dramatic deterioration in the humanitarian situation.

The assumptions underlying this strategy are complemented by a number of operational constraints that will shape our activities. Staff and beneficiary safety will continue to be limiting factors in sustaining a broad national and international humanitarian presence. The U.S. Forces-Iraq (USF-I) drawdown has reduced U.S. Government civilian access to vulnerable communities and information and will affect the U.S. Government’s ability to directly monitor program performance. The GOI emergency response and assistance capacity is limited by systemic weakness and will require humanitarian agencies to respond to population movements.

The successful progression from shorter to longer-term goals will require a commensurate increase in GOI political and financial support for domestic programs that facilitate returns and local integration. The U.S. Government will continue to support the gradual steps the GOI has taken since 2009 and will urge increased commitment of political and financial resources, and explicit incorporation of the issue of displacement in domestic and foreign policy planning. The draft National Strategy on IDPs and Refugees recently developed by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration is a step in the right direction.

Building on the interest of the GOI, we will work with national and local authorities and implementing partners to identify target communities, including Baghdad. Recognizing that a significant number of displaced persons do not want to return to their places of origin, we will increase our focus on the durable solutions of local integration or integration in an alternate location. This will involve greater advocacy with the GOI to provide land grants to the most vulnerable IDPs. We will direct assistance, particularly in shelter and livelihood sectors, to local and alternate integration sites to promote sustainability. The U.S. Government will also continue to assist IDPs in squatter settlements to access basic services, supplies, and information about their legal options. In the region, we will continue our support to Iraqi refugees so that return decisions are not unduly influenced by hardship in countries of refuge.

FY 2012 Programming: Longer-term Objectives

Long-term programming will support the GOI to implement a comprehensive strategy to resolve displacement in concert with a national development plan. We will work with relevant ministries, providing complementary programming and technical advice as requested.

ANNEX 1 – Specific Fiscal Year Objectives

This Strategy includes specific objectives in order to better explain and quantify our overall goals. The desired outcomes serve as internal guideposts to inform our programming and planning. These objectives and desired outcomes will be updated as appropriate and our program implementation is, of course, subject to available funds.

U.S. Government FY 2011 Objectives*:

Coordinate with the GOI to expand targeted humanitarian assistance, particularly to the 63 IDP clusters in Baghdad province that have been identified by UNHCR as highly vulnerable. Collaborate with GOI on livelihoods generation programs, reintegration activities, and to incorporate the needs of IDP squatter settlements into programming.

  • Desired Outcome: 42 sites, or two-thirds of vulnerable Baghdad-area IDP clusters receive international community and/or GOI assistance, such as non-food items, shelter maintenance assistance, and/or water/sanitation interventions. (Baseline is 31 clusters receiving assistance).

Advocate with GOI for land grants to allow local integration for IDP s who have indicated that they cannot return to their places of origin (an estimated one-third of the IDP population). Secure firm GOI commitment on land ownership and provision of essential services (water, electricity, and waste management).

  • Desired Outcome: 1.) Land grants are provided to allow the local reintegration of 200 IDP families in pilot projects. 2.) All pilot projects are supported by basic services to ensure sustainability.

Work with the GOI to ensure that assistance and services reach female-headed IDP and refugee returnee households.

  • Desired Outcome: At least 18,400 families, or two-thirds of known female-headed IDP and refugee returnee households, receive GOI and/or international community assistance.*

In order to assist IDPs who have effectively returned to their place of origin to close out their IDP status, request that the GOI restart IDP registration which is a prerequisite for IDPs to receive returnee grants.

  • Desired Outcome: Re-opening of IDP registration by the GOI for all eligible IDPs who approach the GOI.

Design assistance programs in recognition of an ongoing transition from relief to development, to include a minimum 25% representation of IDPs and returnees in relevant USAID development programs.

  • Desired Outcome: At least one-quarter of the beneficiaries in relevant USG development programs are IDPs or returnees.*

U.S. Government FY 2012 Objectives*:

Assist the GOI, in coordination with international organizations and other donors, in implementing a comprehensive strategy to support the reintegration or local integration of displaced Iraqis. Active participation of relevant GOI ministries will be essential to develop a long-term strategy to address housing needs and gaps in essential services.

  • Desired Outcome: Public release of a national GOI strategy that supports all possible durable solutions for IDPs.

Continue to work with the GOI to assist the most vulnerable Iraqis, particularly female-headed IDP and refugee returnee households.

  • Desired Outcome: Maintain GOI and/or international community assistance to at least two-thirds of vulnerable female-headed IDP and returnee households and increase as budget allows.

Expand U.S. Government support for early recovery and development activities targeting the displaced with a continued focus on key sectors including shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection and livelihoods.

  • Desired Outcome: One-third of relevant USAID development programming benefits displaced populations and/or refugee returnee communities.

* FY 2011 and FY 2012 outcomes will be reviewed and subject to modification, if necessary, in light of FY 2011 progress performance data gathered in April 2012, about six months into FY11 program implementation. Full FY 2011 results will be provided upon conclusion of FY 2011 programs.

ANNEX 2 – Agency Funding Plans

New programming is contingent on appropriation levels, and the plans outlined below may change based on actual funding levels and the situation on the ground. This may be particularly relevant to USAID/Iraq’s ability to integrate displacement into its programming should USAID/Iraq face a potentially severe budget reduction.


PRM FY 2010 support for return and reintegration programs, which remains active in FY 2011, totaled nearly $62 million. This includes $17 million for continued socioeconomic reintegration and livelihood support through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), $5.6 million in cash-for-work projects through the World Food Program (WFP), and $1.5 million toward a humanitarian air service operated by WFP to improve access to populations and projects outside of Baghdad. PRM’s contribution to UNHCR’s 2010 appeal for Iraq and the Region included $37.8 million for programs internal to Iraq, which was used along with regional funds to support returns assistance and improved shelter for returnees.

In FY11, PRM has focused on basic humanitarian assistance, local integration and cementing returns. Humanitarian assistance targets the most vulnerable IDPs, particularly those in squatter settlements and female-headed households. We also are working with Iraqi officials to facilitate local integration for IDPs who do not want to return home. We have conveyed to Iraqi officials that we are prepared to match its contribution of land grants and basic services with shelter and livelihood assistance for those integrating into new locations. We will continue to support voluntary return and reintegration, primarily through projects in shelter, livelihoods, water/sanitation, protection and reconciliation.

PRM’s FY 2012 assistance will respond to return trends and remaining pockets of vulnerability. If refugees begin to return in larger numbers, PRM may shift Iraq resources from refugee assistance in the region to support more robust returns and reintegration programming. Should security conditions dramatically decline, with a consequent halt in returns or outflow to the region, PRM would direct its resources accordingly.

USAID/Iraq Non-emergency Assistance to IDPs:

Beginning in 2010, USAID/Iraq’s Community Action Program (CAP) has included longer-term, community-focused assistance to select communities absorbing IDPs and returnees. USAID/Iraq will expand long-term assistance strategies to include health, education, access to justice, access to credit, and long-term sustainable employment through private sector development.

With FY 2011 funds, budgetary restrictions permitting, USAID’s planned Education Program will take the needs of IDPs and returnees into consideration through improved service delivery to primary schools. IDPs will also benefit from USAID’s Primary Health Care Program’s integrated approach to health systems, which will emphasize service delivery at primary health care clinics. The Access to Justice Program will assist IDPs and returnees to resolve their problems by informing and educating them about their rights, in particular as they relate to homelessness, access to property and documentation, and by providing legal and administrative assistance to enable them to receive necessary remedies. The existing Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program will support IDPs by providing micro-finance, business and technical training, and job placement assistance for IDPs and returnees. CAP will continue its multi-sector, community-based initiatives.

In the long term, USAID/Iraq will continue to support IDP and returnee communities through community-based development activities recognizing that achieving durable solutions to displacement is a priority.


Approximately $41 million in USAID/OFDA FY 2010 funding continues to support vulnerable and conflict-affected Iraqis through grants provided to implementing partners. USAID/OFDA FY 2010 support includes $2.8 million for agriculture and food security, $4.4 million for economic recovery and market systems, $2.8 million for protection, $10 million for shelter and settlements, and $9.6 million for water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions. In addition, USAID/OFDA provided $4.6 million to support humanitarian coordination and information management, $5.2 million for logistics and relief commodities, and $1 million for monitoring and evaluation programs.

In FY 2011, USAID/OFDA continues to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of displaced and vulnerable Iraqis, as well as mitigate the impact of displacement and improve the resilience of vulnerable communities to complex emergencies and natural disasters. In addition, USAID/OFDA supports strengthening GOI disaster preparedness and response capacities and supports NGO and UN agency efforts to identify vulnerable populations and coordinate humanitarian assistance.

USAID/OFDA’s emergency response in Iraq will end by June 30, 2012, and implementing partners will transition any continuing programs to early recovery or development initiatives with assistance from development-related donors. USAID/OFDA will work with USAID/Iraq, State/PRM, NGOs, and humanitarian agencies to identify any potential gaps in assistance and provide advice on appropriate responses.