Days before snow was expected to fall in the foothills of Dohuk, Iraq, 900 families are moving into the new camp for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) built through the collaboration of 8 UN agencies planned and led by UN-Habitat.
UN-Habitat’s acting Regional Director from Arab States, Mr Dyfed Aubrey and UN-Habitat’s Country Director Dr Erfan Ali visited the camp built in Dawodye to inspect the shelter units prior to handover to the Dohuk Governorate on 6 January, and to meet the 300 families that were moving into their new homes that day.
Families had been displaced from Sinjar in August due to the ongoing conflict with Islamic State in the region and had been trapped on Mount Sinjar for weeks before fleeing to and being successively displaced from a series of locations on the Syrian border. They eventually took temporary refuge in a tented camp in Sarrensk Dohuk and arrived at the Dawodye camp for longer term refuge in early 2015.
A new model of IDP camp
UN-Habitat has noted how many camps in the region, over years of protracted conflicts, have become slums as tents get replaced with more permanent housing. This camp, funded by the Government of Saudi Arabia, has been planned with adequate street widths and with public spaces, in line with urban planning principles, and shelter is provided in prefabricated units.
Over an approximate three-year time-frame, prefabricated units, with a 15 year design life, are expected to be more cost effective than traditional tented camps, and provide dignity, improved protection from the elements and good sanitary conditions to the users.
“We are so happy and relieved to be in a place where we feel safe and will be comfortable even in the winter,” remarked a teenage girl who was moving into her family’s new shelter. Parents remarked on how they looked forward to their children returning soon to school, and returning to a more normal life.
Delivering as One-UN
Working together, UN-Habitat and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) provided shelters in partnership with local NGOs, UNDP provided roads, drainage, water and sanitation in partnership with the local government and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) provided solar lighting.
In addition, UNICEF will provide play areas and is building a primary school and the UN Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) will provide a secondary school, WHO is providing a health facility and the UN’s population agency, UNFPA, will build maternal health facilities.
All social facilities are also built with prefabricated units. The UN High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, is providing non-food items and has co-led the beneficiary identification process with the Dohuk Governorate. They will work with the Dohuk Governorate on the camp’s management.
UN-Habitat is planning and coordinating the construction of three IDP camps in Iraq with total capacity of 5,329 shelter units to host over 30,000 IDPs in Suleymaniah, Dohuk and Erbil, and plans to extend the programme to new sites in Dohuk, Kerbala and Baghdad.