UN agency opens two new camps for displaced Iraqis in Baghdad

A view of an IDP camp in Al-Jamea, Baghdad, where 97 families from Anbar Governorate have found temporary shelter. Photo: ©UNICEF Iraq/2015/Khuzaie

23 September 2015 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), partners and local authorities announced today the recent opening of two new camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baghdad province, providing shelter to close to 3,500 Iraqis who have had to flee the Anbar province due to recent fighting.

“UNHCR, the authorities and partners are working hard to ensure that the shelter needs of internally displaced Iraqis are being met and to relieve the pressure on the local community,” said Bruno Geddo, the UNHCR Representative in Iraq, in a press release.

“While the majority of those who have been forcibly displaced would prefer to return home, a secure shelter will provide them with protection and a sense of dignity until it is safe for them to do so,” he added.

Sadr Yusufiya camp opened yesterday, six kilometres from Bzeibiz bridge, the main access point between the Baghdad and Anbar provinces, and will accommodate some 2,000 people.

In Baghdad’s Ghzaliya neighbourhood, Scout camp, which opened on 16 September, will provide shelter to some 1,500 internally displaced Iraqis who had been staying in unfinished buildings, with the host community or with relatives in the city.

According to UNHCR, Scout camp has 250 tents that are all connected to electricity, and its new residents have also received essential household items and summer assistance, including mattresses and kitchen utensils, as well as rechargeable fans, cooler boxes and water coolers, to aid their new move. The camp features innovative shaded areas that will be used as communal kitchens, and a 250 KV generator to supplement the power supply when it goes off.

Meanwhile, Sadr Yusufiya camp has 325 tents, each provided with one electric lamp and a socket outlet connected to two 350 KV generators powering the camp. Public lightning is reportedly provided by 36 pole lamp posts across the camp.

Naima, 66, fled Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, when it fell to the control of armed insurgents in April. She moved into Scout camp last week, together with her son, his wife and their newborn baby.

“It's a big relief,” she said. “We’d been living in an unfinished building ever since we arrived. Although the host community has been generous, providing us with cash, food and household items, it feels good to have a space that is ours.”

Conflict in Iraq continues unabated, causing mass internal displacement. According to the UN, Iraq now has the third highest population of IDPs in the world, with 3.2 million people having been displaced since January 2014, joining the ranks of approximately 1 million still displaced over the past decade.

In the spring of 2015, renewed fighting in Anbar displaced an estimated 250,000 Iraqis. UNHCR says it will continue various shelter interventions to respond to the crisis. For example, in safe areas on the other side of the Euphrates river, the agency is building 2 more camps in Ameriyat al Fallujah, to provide shelter for up to 4,200 people who have been displaced within Anbar.

Both camps have been made possible through flexible funding received by UNHCR from donors. Countries including the US, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Australia, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada have been providing UNHCR with unrestricted funding.

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