July 2018 has marked the one year anniversary of the liberation of West Mosul. Security has been the main factor for people deciding to either return or remain in displacement. According to the IOM, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across Iraq has decreased to 2 million people, and 3.8 million people have returned to their areas and pre-displacement residence.
Commissioned by UNHCR and undertaken by Human Appeal, an assessment has been conducted in three neighbourhoods in West Mosul in order to have a better overview of the humanitarian needs of the returnees and to understand the obstacles that prevent people from returning. The ultimate aim is for the displaced people to return home in a safely, voluntarily, and dignified manner within a recovered and stable city.
The following key findings can be drawn from the assessment:
Destruction of infrastructure: the first challenge that returnees are facing are the unliveable conditions, not only are their houses in bad conditions , but the roads, sewage systems, electricity, public buildings, bridges are completely intact. Furthermore, there is a continuous threat to the safety of people as the city is highly contaminated with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).
Lack of access to basic services: the returnees are having a hard time to access basic services such as healthcare, education, electricity and water. This is either due to a lack of the service in place or because they are facing restrictions of obtaining them as a result of their affiliations and lack of documentation.
Lack of livelihood support: the economy has collapse in the aftermath of the conflict. Livelihood opportunities, sources of disposable income, and rehabilitation of agricultural land is significant for the road towards recovery and stabilisation. Our assessment has shown that in the lack thereof, families have no choice but to consume their savings to meet their daily needs. Moreover, the lack of income can result into several protection concerns such as child labour, recruitment of youth into armed forces, and gender-based violence. There has been an increase in the number of female headed households (FHH), resulting in more vulnerability for the entire household if no livelihood opportunities are in place. Communities in our assessment have indicated a lack of financial support for income generating activities.