In it for the Long Haul: A New Response for IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The MERI report, In It for the Long Haul: A New Response for IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is a compilation and analysis of critical issues and possible next steps for dealing with the challenges posed by increasingly protracted displacement in the Kurdistan Region. This information was collected from key Kurdistan Regional Government and international stakeholders during our 10 September 2015 roundtable to discuss new approaches for tackling the political, social, and economic impacts of such a pressing issue.

The overall consensus among meeting participants is that the current emergency-focused response to internally displaced persons (IDPs) must shift to a more nuanced, long-term, and collaborative approach. This new approach must focus on promoting self-sustaining livelihoods and cohesion among IDP and host communities in the foreseeable future while laying groundwork for voluntary, safe, dignified, and informed returns in the longer-term. Three pillars, underpinned by sensitivity to gender, age, religion, and ethnicity, should sustain this new approach by:

  • Primarily, fostering co-existence and resilience within host communities so that IDP populations are able to pursue independent and sustainable lives in the foreseeable future.
  • While, investing in better conditions in the areas of origin to facilitate voluntary returns in the longer-term.
  • And finally, establishing and respecting an acceptable standard in terms of human rights and welfare that should be guaranteed to both the displaced and host communities.

The report goes on to detail challenges and opportunities under each pillar and sets out overall recommendations for Kurdistan regional authorities, humanitarian and development actors, and the international donor community in addressing displacement in the immediate and longer-term.

The September 2015 roundtable and this ensuing report are the first steps in a larger MERI initiative aimed at helping stakeholders find sustainable, resilient, and rights-based policy strategies to resolve the challenges posed and exacerbated by displacement in the Kurdistan Region.

Click to download the report in English.

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About MERI:  The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.  Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.

MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).

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