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Oil-for-Food Programme
Background Brief - Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
and Settlement Rehabilitation

The Oil-for-Food Programme was established in April 1995 as a temporary measure to ease the unintended consequences of United Nations sanctions on Iraq's civilian population. The first Iraqi oil sold under the programme to pay for humanitarian supplies, was exported in December 1996 and the first shipments of food arrived in March 1997. As of 20 March 2003, the Oil-for-Food Programme covered 24 sectors of need and had prevented the further degradation of public services and infrastructure, making a significant difference in the humanitarian situation nationwide.

United Nations agencies and organizations have undertaken a range of relief activities to assist internally displaced and vulnerable families living in transit and temporary facilities in the three northern governorates of Iraq. In consultation with local authorities, the UN has tried to ensure that all known internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the three northern governorates have access to the monthly food basket, targeted nutrition and supplementary feeding programmes, housing and other services.

According to recent surveys by UN-Habitat (Oct. 2000, Jan. 2001 and 2002) the estimated population in northern Iraq is 3.3 million, of whom 24 per cent fall into the category of internally displaced or vulnerable groups. The total number of internally displaced families is estimated at more than 141,000. As of 20 March 2003, there were four categories of IDPs receiving assistance through the Oil-for-Food Programme in northern Iraq. They were:

  • Population groups willing to resettle in their villages of origin if the security situation permits;
  • Population groups already resettled or willing to resettle in rural areas or semi urban areas;
  • The poorest layers of overall population - mostly those who did not have access to basic services and infrastructure in townships and urban areas;
  • Population groups living in temporary shelters in urban and semi-urban areas.

With funding provided by the Oil-for-Food Programme, UN agencies in the three northern governorates provided housing, essential services and infrastructure to IDPs and other vulnerable groups. Between December 1996 and early 2003, 19,051 dwellings had been built for IDPs and most vulnerable groups and about 114,300 people had benefitted.

Settlement Rehabilitation

In close cooperation with other UN agencies, the Settlement Rehabilitation Programme (SRP) was responsible for the completion of over 10,000 self-built houses and 9,000 turnkey houses. These had been complimented by the construction of more than 510 schools, 124 health centres, 5 public baths, 36 centres of agronomic and veterinary services, 25 sheep dips, 14 student hostels and kindergartens, 28 civic and 4 community centres, 2,800km of roads and bridges and 850km of water and sanitation services, providing integrated assistance to the beneficiaries and their communities. As of September 2002, UN-Habitat had provided housing for some 19,000 families through turnkey and self-built housing projects.

UNOPS (IDPs) implemented emergency relief operations worth tens of millions of dollars. Its responsibilities included the distribution of emergency relief items such as tents, blankets, heaters and stoves to support internally displaced persons. UNOPS also  provided assistance to IDP camps, including support for community management of water and sanitation facilities and other improvements to camps and temporary shelters.


 Transport and
 Food Handling
 Water and Sanitation
 IDPs and Settlement
 Mine Action
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