The Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MDM) is responsible for all matters relating to Iraqi refugees and displaced persons and all non-Iraqi refugees residing in Iraq. It develops policies to address migration issues and serves as the focal point for organizations assisting refugees and displaced persons.
Objectives of the Ministry include:
o Continue to assist limited, voluntary refugee returns to Iraq and implement strategies to protect and assist non-Iraqi refugees inside Iraq.
o Develop strategies to create durable solutions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq.
o Advocate for legislation that provides protection and assistance to refugees and displaced persons.
A UN/World Bank assessment notes that the “return and reintegration of IDPs and refugees will have major repercussions for public services and infrastructure, long-term stabilization, and the human capital of Iraq.”
· Through the Madrid Donors Conference, secured funding from Portugal for offices in four regions with high IDP and refugee returnee needs. Regional centers are being established in Basrah, Maysan, and two other locations. Minister Al-Otbee was a lead presenter for the humanitarian session in Madrid.
· Minister Al-Otbee led the Iraqi delegation to the UNHCR annual conference in Geneva in September, 2003.
· Co-chaired with UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) a two-day strategic planning and policy workshop in Amman, with the participation of other relevant Iraqi Ministries, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives. A follow-up meeting was held in Amman in early April.
· Represented Iraq in negotiations with the Government of Turkey and UNHCR on the voluntary return of Turkish refugees from northern Iraq.
· The Ministry moved to its permanent headquarters in Baghdad’s Karkh district on March 20th, 2004.
Durable Solutions Achievements for Refugees and IDPs:
· Over 5,000 Iraqi refugees in Saudi Arabia returned with assistance from the Ministry, UNHCR, and the Government of Saudi Arabia.
· 5,500 Iraqi refugees have returned from Iran with assistance from the Ministry and UNHCR.
· Over 1,000 Iraqi migrants in Lebanon have returned with assistance from the Ministry and IOM.
· Kurdish refugees from Iran are being settled locally in northern Iraq.
· Iraqi Kurds stranded on the Israeli – Lebanese border were assisted by the Ministry, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the UN in returning home.
· 38 Iraqi failed asylum seekers imprisoned in Pakistan were assisted by the Ministry, IOM, and the Government of the United Arab Emirates in returning to Iraq.
· Develop a national plan to address the full range of IDP and refugee issues, to include property restitution or compensation, citizenship, and access to government services.
· Work with other ministries, donor countries, International Organizations and NGOs to implement programs such has rehabilitation of housing and infrastructure to accommodate refugee and IDP populations and improve services to returnee areas through community projects.
· Build institutional capacity for the protection of displaced populations through training personnel of other ministries and organizations that work with displaced populations.
· Presently Iraq cannot support a significant population increase or large migration flows. Return and repatriation of refugees should not necessarily be encouraged or promoted until the situation improves.
· UN agencies had been helping to meet short and long-term humanitarian needs and build local capacity. Insecurity in some parts of Iraq and the withdrawal of UN international staff has slowed critical humanitarian assistance and the implementation of return and reintegration activities.
· Because of the complexity and duration of displacement in Iraq, assistance needs are enormous, especially regarding shelter. Providing modest, durable housing for returning populations will require establishing acceptable housing alternatives and better coordination among the Iraqi government, donors, and assistance organizations.
· The Ministry of Displacement and Migration was established by the Iraqi Governing Council on 30 August 2003. CPA Order No. 50 defining MDM responsibilities was signed into law on 11 January 2004.
· Mohammed Jassim Khudhayir Al-Otbee was appointed Minister of MDM on 31 August 2003.
· Mrs. Hamdia Ahmed Najef was appointed Deputy Minister of MDM on 3 April 2004.
· As many as 800,000 persons are displaced throughout northern Iraq and an additional 100,000 to 300,000 persons are displaced in the center and south of Iraq.
· An estimated 900,000 Iraqis were compelled to cross international borders and are considered to be refugees or in a refugee-like situation in neighboring countries and beyond. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Iraqi refugees have returned since May 2003, either spontaneously or with assistance from MDM and International Organizations.