Sinjar Urban profile
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Sinjar Urban Profile

UN-Habitat seeks to provide up to date, holistic documentation and analysis of the impact of the crisis in key cities, through City Profiles, synthesising information and insight from existing sources and priority sectors, supplemented by direct field research by UN-Habitat teams based in each city. This profile is part of a regional urban profiling exercise that aims to develop urban profiles for the cities of Basra, Sinjar (Iraq), Derna (Libya), Mareb (Yemen) and Dara’a (Syria). UN- Habitat’s expertise in urban analysis, community approaches and crisis contexts have informed the development of the City Profiling process. All City Profiles are developed in close association with the concerned governorates and municipalities.

The structure of the City Profile provides a pre-crisis baseline and data from the current situation to understand the impact of the crisis accompanied by narrative description and analysis. Furthermore, City Profiles review the functionality of the city economy and services, understanding of capacities and coping mechanisms and the identification of humanitarian or development priorities. They do not provide comprehensive data on individual topics, but seek to provide a balanced overview. The City Profile affords an opportunity for a range of stakeholders to represent their diagnosis of the situation in their city, provides a basis for local discussions on actions to be taken and helps to make local information and voices accessible to external stakeholders seeking to assist in development response.

Recovery and reconstruction following conflict is a long process, particularly after the level of damage incurred in Sinjar district, in northern Iraq, in the last few years. The district faces enormous challenges in its reconstruction and recovery. Reconstructing hard infrastructure, one facility at a time, allows for normal life to return to a city. However, for infrastructure to become a service it requires staff, maintenance and demand. It is nearly impossible to recover all of this at once, including all the skilled personnel required to operate infrastructure. The same is seen in the recovery of economic sectors, which depend on a variety of skills from a diverse population in order to return to the way the economy functioned prior to the conflict. It is a difficult step to take to return to a place where one has experienced extremely traumatic events, and to risk the lives and dignity of one’s family again. As recovery is a slow process, people should be able to return to their areas of origin to rebuild their lives at their own pace, before committing to the full relocation of their families.

For IDPs from Sinjar, this is not possible for the time being due to current procedures in place that make it difficult to leave the Kurdistan Region, where most IDPs fled to. This requires going through long procedures to obtain approvals from multiple administrative and security authorities, which can take over a month. Once IDPs from Sinjar leave Kurdistan it is difficult for them to return and to re-obtain a tent inside the camps, therefore they risk losing the option to receive financial support, services, and the relative stability provided by camps. This is considered a major obstacle to return and at the very least, travels between Kurdistan and Sinjar should be a possibility until the level of services in Sinjar is higher than that of the camps. Many IDPs prefer to stay in the camps, where they know what conditions to expect, where there is the possibility to apply to emigrate to Europe or settle down in old Yazidi villages and areas under Sharia administration where the population is low. The result is that Sinjar District is characterized by one of the lowest return rates in the entire country, and over two and a half years following the end of the conflict some villages remain deserted.