Cablegate: What We Know About Idps

DE RUEHGB #3550/01 2991012
R 261012Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

(U) 1. SUMMARY: USAID obtains data on internal displacement and
returns in Iraq through several sources that include the United
Nations (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM),
the Government of Iraq and implementing partners. Though mostly
reliable, the information is incomplete due to factors such as the
security environment, lack of access, and the rapid movement of the
displaced. This is common in many displacement situations, which
are rarely conducive to comprehensive surveys. In the Iraq context,
many IDPs do not stay when they return to their place of origin, but
merely return to pick up financial incentives, personal belongings
or to conduct private affairs. USAID has not yet received nor
tracked reliable IDP returns statistics. END SUMMARY.

How Data is Collected

(U) 2. Different organizations have different approaches to data
collection. The members of UNHCR Cluster F - the UN umbrella group
focused on IDPs in Iraq - have relied on questionnaire data gathered
by IOM, UNHCR and Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration
(MoDM) during interviews with and registration of IDPs. The
three-page, Rapid Assessment questionnaire used by IOM consists of
48 questions on topics such as family profile, place of origin and
property, humanitarian and security situations in the current
location, intentions, documentation and freedom of movement, food,
healthcare, water and sanitation, and capacity and needs.

--------------------------------------------- -
Different Sources, Different Numbers
--------------------------------------------- -
(U) 3. The primary purpose of the data collection is needs
assessment to determine appropriate emergency assistance and
community needs. IOM does not collect names of IDPs or ask to view
official documents to verify place of origin and displaced status.
As such, IOM methods are not designed to track secondary
displacements or returns at this time.
(U) 4. UNHCR Cluster F data reveals that approximately 56 percent of
IDPs are renting housing, 19 percent live with host families, 24
percent live in public buildings or former military barracks and 1
percent are in tented camps. Of these, many do not register as IDPs
in their new region of residence. As a result, the IDP populations
in some areas are scattered and perhaps even inconspicuous in their
new communities, making it difficult to reach out to the group as a
(U) 5. The International Medical Corps (IMC) uses door-to-door
interviews to gather data. This labor-intensive process is
inherently limited in scope but allows for collection of more
detailed information about a wider variety of issues. IMC is able
to reach out to Iraqis who may be considering fleeing (potential
IDPs) and therefore to estimate with slightly more precision future
displacement and intended destinations. Data from all five USAID
implementing partners focuses on displacement after the Samarah
bombing in February 2006, as the sheer size of this group (currently
estimated at more than 1.2 million) and the rapid rate at which they
have been displaced has overloaded the capacity of local
infrastructures and posed the additional challenges of settling down
and integrating into communities.
(U) 6. We are also aware that the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS)
publishes estimates of Iraq's overall displaced population by
region. While each IDP source publishes slightly different data on
IDP totals, the numbers are useful to gain a sense of order of
magnitude of the problem and the rate at which displacement is
growing relative to the existing displaced population. USAID policy
has been to use the UNHCR Cluster F numbers to give us the most
reliable sense of needs.

--------------------------------------------- --
Ministry Of Displacement and Migration/Ministry of Trade
--------------------------------------------- --

(U) 7. MoDM currently employs between 300 and 400 staff, including
those at Headquarters and in the Ministry's 16 Branch Offices. Many
of these additional staff are working at the Ministry on temporary
contracts. We understand that MoDM expects its 2008 budget, once
approved, to cover the salaries of an additional 200 to 300 staff at
Headquarters and in the Branch Offices.
(U) 8. USAID understands MODM is reporting some returns are
occurring and that some registered IDPs have submitted returnee
claims. USAID is attempting to verify this information through its
implementing partners and through the PRTs and is in discussion with
its NGO implementing partners to determine how to best assist with
return assessments, monitoring and assistance should returnee
numbers increase,
(U) 9. It is worthwhile to note that the only official statistics on
displaced populations are published by the Ministry of Trade (MoT),
which manages the Iraq's Public Distribution System of rations.
Some argue that the MoT underestimates the problem, as many IDPs do
not or cannot register with PDS in their new communities and local
groups manipulate numbers for political reasons.

BAGHDAD 00003550 002 OF 002


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