The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration is planning to build a yet undetermined number of residential compounds nationwide to ease the problems faced by over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs), a ministry official said on 6 February.
[Read this report in Arabic]
“We are still at the drawing-board phase for residential compounds to be built over 50,000 square metres, scattered nationwide,” said Ali Shaalan, head of the Ministry’s Planning Directorate.
“We expect to complete this phase in about a month. So far we’ve managed to buy land in only seven provinces, including Missan, Karbala, Basra and Thi Qar; we are planning to buy more land nationwide,” Shaalan told IRIN, adding that the precise number of compounds to be built would be determined as soon as it was clear how much funding and land would be available.
Shaalan said his ministry was planning to approach Iraqi and Arab banks to get funds for the project.
According to Shaalan, each residential compound will have 50 buildings and each building will have six apartments – allowing some 300 IDP families per compound the opportunity to purchase a unit. Schools, markets, mosques, electricity and water plants, and other facilities will be built in each compound.
“We are planning that the IDP families pay in instalments for maybe 20-30 years,” said Shaalan who estimated the cost of each compound at about US$12 million.
So far, it has not been determined which displaced families will have priority in occupying these compounds but Shaalan said his Ministry’s plan “will not change the demography of any province”.
Iraq has been facing a displacement crisis for nearly 25 years as a result of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, the first Gulf War following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), over 4.2 million Iraqis have left their homes, many in dire need of humanitarian care. Of these, some 2.2 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while over 2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria and Jordan.
Many were displaced prior to 2003, but the largest number has fled since that time.
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