Baghdad, 19 September 2017 – A new mapping exercise carried out by the Ministry of Planning in Iraq, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, found that there are currently 3,687 informal settlements in 12 governorates in the country, inhabited by about 3.2 million Iraqis.

The findings were presented during an event jointly held by the Ministry of Planning and the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers within the framework of the National Programme for Rehabilitation and Regularization of Informal Settlements and IDP areas in Iraq implemented by UN-Habitat and funded by the Office of Refugees and IDP Affairs at the US Embassy.

H.E. Dr. Salman al-Jumaili the Minister of Planning said: "The problem of Informal Settlements has been exacerbated by the aggravated housing crisis in the country, which is increasing year after year, in addition to the lack of enforcement of laws and regulations that contribute to reduce this problem…The problem of informal settlements has become widespread and is hindering community development programmes".

The Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq pointed out that the Cabinet's Resolution No. 279 of 2015, which includes the endorsement of the road map that was submitted by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, paved the way for the implementation of the National Program for the Rehabilitation and Regularization of Informal Settlements In Iraq, and contributed to addressing the problem in a comprehensive manner in terms of its political, economic, health, physical and social aspects, within a sustainable and practical framework.

Relevant technical solutions

The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and   Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Lize Grande praised the efforts of the Iraqi Government and UN-Habitat in carrying out this work, noting that the United Nations "will make every effort to help to resolve this problem and that the current national programme has provided the relevant technical solutions based on modern and successful experiences in many countries".

"Iraqis can trust that they can count on the United Nations as they rebuild their country", said Grande and added that there will soon be a global conference to help on the reconstruction in Iraq.

Cris Dilworth, the Representative of the Office of Refugees and IDP Affairs at the US Embassy said: “This project will contribute to addressing the informal settlements and finding solutions for the displaced people, especially in the presence of areas that are heavily destroyed in many cities of Iraq, that caused the emergence of new slums".

“Thanks to this intervention,” said Dilworth, “we will be able to impede the growth of slums during the post-ISIL era".

3,687 informal settlements

The Head of UN-Habitat in Iraq,Erfan Ali, emphasized  on the continuation of the national programme to support the Iraqi Government to carry on the agreed action plans and strategies, to upgrade the informal settlements and IDP areas, and continue together to implement the legal, technical and institutional steps according to the work methodology of the programme following the endorsement of the legislative framework by the Parliament, and upon issuing the regulation for establishing the Informal Settlements Rehabilitation Fund by the Iraqi Council of Ministers.

The current results revealed that there are 3,687 informal settlements including 521,947 illegal housing units where 3.2 million inhabitants are accommodated. The capital Baghdad was the city with the largest number of informal settlements, with 1022 areas, followed by Basra and Dhiqar with 677 settlements and 333 settlements, respectively. The current identification of informal settlements covers 12 Governorates excluding the KR-I and the Governorates of Ninewa, Salahadin and Anbar, where the areas identification work began recently.