Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

Iraq: Leading politician Allawi promises to help refugees, IDPs

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 30 March 2010
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Iraq: Leading politician Allawi promises to help refugees, IDPs, 30 March 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bb4bde71e.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

BAGHDAD, 30 March 2010 (IRIN) - Ayad Allawi, leader of the secular Iraqiya alliance which narrowly won national elections on 7 March, has pledged to make the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) a top priority, but many political uncertainties lie ahead.

"There are millions of Iraqi people inside and outside Iraq who have been turfed out of their homes? and are experiencing injustice. We will work to help them return to their homes," Allawi told his supporters on 27 March, a day after the announcement of the preliminary results.

Allawi's alliance beat rival State of Law alliance leader Nouri Maliki by 91 seats to 89 for the yet-to-be-formed 325-seat parliament. However, both are a long way short of the 163 seats needed to form a majority and are therefore in meetings with the other political blocs to form alliances. Maliki is challenging the vote count in court.

The issue of displaced people must be a top priority for the coming government, said Basil Abdul-Wahab al-Azawi, head of the Baghdad-based Commission of Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of more than 1,000 NGOs inside and outside Iraq.

"Any delay in forming the new government due to the expected political wrangling will have a dangerous impact on IDPs and refugees," he said.

Hassam Kamil, professor of mass media at the University of Baghdad and a political analyst, said accurate and comprehensive data on IDP numbers, their whereabouts and needs was urgently needed. "It is not only a security-related issue, but also a social, economic and political one. And all these aspects should be taken into consideration by the new government," he told IRIN.

Long-term displacement

Since 2003 some four million people were forced to flee their homes, either abroad - chiefly to Syria and Jordan - or to other areas of their own country.

In its latest report on 17 March, Washington-based Refugees International said the humanitarian situation facing Iraqi refugees and IDPs "is quickly becoming a protracted one" and called on the USA, donors and the Iraqi government to join forces to expand humanitarian programmes.

"Many fear returning to their original homes. Most are too poor to relocate. The settlements all lack basic services, including water, sanitation, and electricity, and are built in precarious places - under bridges, alongside railroad tracks and amongst garbage dumps," the report said.

It said that despite the governments of Iraq and the USA, among others, encouraging returns, "much of the current displacement is likely to be permanent".

"People will continue to return home, but only at a trickle. Lack of security and jobs continues to be a strong deterrent. Others are simply too traumatized to return to their places of origin. Long-term solutions must be found for these people," it added.

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