Hosted by UKH, the conference, which focused on multiple aspects of forced migration, ran from 19 to 21 April in Erbil, Iraq. Sessions included: Internal Displacement and Durable Solutions; Returning IDPs and Obstacles to Return; International Migration, Identities and Protection; Social Cohesion, and a special section on Insider Stories on Displacement. The event was funded by the US State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
The conference provided a platform to discuss research outcomes and next steps in humanitarian action and early recovery, with a view to rebuilding communities affected by conflict and finding durable solutions for the nearly 5 million Iraqis, who have been displaced across the country. More than 3 million are currently still displaced but more than 1.7 million have returned to their areas of origin.
“Despite many difficulties and the continuation of the war to this day, with the cooperation and extraordinary efforts exerted by the regional government and the international and local organizations working in Iraq and Kurdistan, and with those of civil society organizations and the local efforts of good people, we have been able to provide basic services for the displaced, but this does not mean that there are no other problems facing IDPs,” said Jasim Aljaf, Iraq’s Minister of Migration and Displacement, at the conference reception. “The displacement on its own is a crisis and we are tempering the pace of it, as we cannot solve all the problems,” he continued.
“We view this conference as an important and timely effort to study the issues, obstacles and challenges pertaining to displacement from all perspectives,” said Kareem Sinjari, Minister of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government. “We hope the displacement crisis is thoroughly and scientifically studied, and we hope that practical and realistic suggestions are put forward that can be implemented in reaching a permanent and durable solution that contributes to restore peace, stability and prosperity for all communities,” he said.
“The pace of displacement in Iraq since the rise of ISIL in 2014 is unprecedented. The problems people will face when they return cannot be underestimated, from communities facing the destruction of schools, health clinics and water systems, to the threat of collective punishment,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “A conference like this is critical, as it brings together the very best minds from Iraq and all around the world who understand these issues, to discuss the challenges and chart the way forward together,” she continued.
“The United States is pleased to have supported this conference that has brought together more than 40 researchers from Iraq and overseas,” stated Henry Haggard, Acting Consul General of the United States Consulate in Erbil. “We look forward to working together with all of you to find greater common understanding of the challenges we face and to develop solutions that work,” he said.
“By presenting solid academic research, this conference provides an opportunity to share knowledge and findings on displacement,” stated Thomas Lothar Weiss, IOM Iraq Chief of Mission. “The conference has brought together humanitarian organizations and stakeholders, so we can all work together to apply this knowledge and use our limited resources effectively to assist the most vulnerable Iraqis affected by the current crisis,” he continued.
“We are pleased to have put on this conference in collaboration with IOM and Georgetown University to disseminate valuable research on displaced people in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region,” said Hemin Hussein Mirkhan, Director of the University of Kurdistan-Hewlêr, Center for Regional and International Studies (CRIS).
“The findings and conclusions from the research presentations provide new and insightful material for policy and programming, and give voice to the experience and needs of Iraqi IDPs,” said Rochelle Davis, of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
IOM presented several studies on migration and displacement, which it researched or supported, on topics including locations of displacement in Iraq, social cohesion, IDP identities, durable solutions for displacement, and migration flows from Iraq to Europe and reasons behind migration.
Research presentations were also given by academics from several universities in Iraq: Kurdistan-Hewlêr, Basrah, Dohuk, Erbil Polytechnic, Kirkuk, Nahrain, Raparin, Salahaddin; and universities abroad: Exeter, Georgetown, London School of Economics and McGill.
Local and international organizations presenting their research included: AMAR Charitable Foundation, Center for Victims of Torture, Danish Refugee Council, Ejaab Organization for Youth Development, International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, Joint IDP Profiling Service, Mercy Corps, Middle East Centre, Middle East Research Institute, and Mixed Migration Platform. UN agencies presenting included: IOM, UNDP, UNHCR and UNESCWA.
Videos of the presentations are available on the IOM Iraq website.
For further information, please contact:
Sandra Black at IOM Iraq,