Erbil, 4 September 2014 – Funding from Saudi Arabia to the UN will allow UN-Habitat to provide shelter options for internally displaced people, commonly referred to as IDPs, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. 

Following the takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant movement - ISIL - last June and the influx of more than 600,000 IDPs to other areas in the country, UN-Habitat was granted USD 8 million from the Saudi government to work with other agencies in the response activities to the IDP crisis in Iraq. Through this grant, UN-Habitat has started implementing a “Sustainable Shelters for IDPs” programme that focuses on providing convenient housing and early recovery services for approximately 1,000 IDP families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in addition to limited intervention in other Iraqi governorates. 

Speaking of the new initiative, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, said: “This programme allows us to assess the rapidly changing situation and develop appropriate shelter responses for those affected by the ongoing crisis in Iraq.  UN-Habitat is grateful for the generous and timely contribution of the Saudi Arabian government which will enable us to support some of the most vulnerable displaced people in Iraq.” 

Each family will be housed in a prefabricated housing unit or in a composite unit within a collective shelter as appropriate, and will have access to electricity, water, and sanitation services. Shelters will be built on identified sites that will include public service centres, including police stations, medical clinics, parks and green spaces.

It is of great concern that IDP families will have access to basic services and employment opportunities. The UN Development Programme, UNDP, is supporting infrastructure component of this initiative and the UN Office for Project Services, UNOPS, will provide solar panels for electrical supply and streets lightening.

In Bahraka and Erbil UN-Habitat has finalized the topographic survey, site plan, designs and bills of quantities of the housing units and the governor of Erbil has endorsed these. Current available resources will cover the erection of between250 and 300 prefab units and proposals have been submitted to donors for additional funding to complement this.

UN-Habitat recommended the prefab shelter solution for the most vulnerable families including orphans, women-headed households, disabled people, child-headed households, widows without support and the elderly.

In Barazinja andSulaimanieh, UN-Habitat has finalized the topographic survey of the site and the draft site plan will host approximately 150-200 IDP families.  In Duhok the governorate has just approved the selection of the site in Dawdia to host around 350-400 IDP families. The total area of the site can accommodate around IDP 2000 families, which will require mobilizing additional resources to complete the establishment of the prefab shelter units and associated infrastructure and services.

Responding to the request of the Chaldean Bishop to provide emergency shelter support to the Christian families who had been forced by ISIL to leave Ninawa governorate, UN-Habitat has finalized the preparation to establish a limited prefab shelter site within the land of the church of St. Teresa in Basra. 

UN-Habitat is partnering with local NGOs to establish the prefab shelter units in the three governorates of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.   A cash-for-rent scheme has also been agreed with the local government to subsidize temporary accommodation of IDP families until the shelters are constructed.

UN-Habitat has sustained a significant present in Iraq for over seventeen years, and has responded  to three crises prior to the current IDP crisis:  between 1997 and 2003  UN-Habitat constructed over 20,000 homes for displaced and vulnerable families in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; following the 2006 IDP crisis UN-Habitat built housing for displaced IDPs in Hilla, Erbil. Wasit and Thiqar, and has since been developing with government a national strategy to address  IDP areas and informal settlements in order to find long term  solutions for the remaining 1 million IDPs displaced in 2006; and the current Syria refugee crisis where it supported housing needs for refugees and infrastructure support in urban host communities in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniah; In parallel, UN-Habitat has supported key development actions, including upgrading informal settlements, preparing the national  housing policy, and strengthening local capacities in planning and service delivery.