Access to Durable Solutions Among IDPs in Iraq


About the Study:

Access to Durable Solutions Among IDPs in Iraq is a unique study that follows, through six rounds of data collection, Iraqi households who were internally displaced between January 2014 and December 2015 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The study is based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC-2010) Framework on Durable Solutions, which lays the cornerstone for specifying how governments, humanitarian practitioners, and academics alike attempt to measure IDPs’ advancement toward durable solutions. Despite the promise that the Framework offers for understanding how IDPs engineer solutions to displacement, translating its premises and criteria into measurable indicators and observable outcomes has posed a challenge due to the vulnerability and mobility of displaced populations.

A groundbreaking study

Access to Durable Solutions Among IDPs in Iraq is the first study of its kind that takes up this task in order to measure the progressive resolution of displacement in practice. The study aims to shed light on how evolving conditions of prolonged displacement change the lives of IDPs over time, and how IDPs themselves adapt and engineer solutions to displacement-related challenges.

A joint project between the International Organization for Migration in Iraq and Georgetown University, the study not only affirms that ending displacement is a process that happens over time, but more importantly, it provides evidence for how, when, and according to whom IDP households resolve the challenges of their displacement.

Three characteristics of the design of Access to Durable Solutions Among IDPs in Iraq make the study stand out:

  1. It is a panel study. Panel studies, which track the same participants over time, offer the unique chance to observe the evolution of how IDP households experience displacement past the initial displacement phase. Five rounds of data have been collected since 2016, and a sixth round is underway in 2021. Of the 3,852 IDP households who enrolled in the study in 2016, 3,463 (89%) remained in the study through Round 5 (2019-2020).
  2. It is a mixed-methods study. The study features two complementary components. A quantitative survey includes indicators asked in each round to measure progress toward a durable solution. Semi-structured qualitative interviews with a subset of IDP households and other displacement-affected populations provide more nuanced and personal dimensions of the displacement experience and insight into why and how IDP households make the decisions they do.
  3. It exclusively focuses on the non-camp population of IDPs. Non-camp populations are an often-ignored segment of IDP populations because they are harder to locate.
Why Iraq?

For more than four decades, Iraq has witnessed successive waves of displacement related to security threats, but the ISIL-related displacement crisis between 2014 and 2017 was unprecedented. Nearly six million Iraqis were displaced in this wave, representing 16% of the entire population of the country. This is more than the combined total of those displaced during the displacement waves in the Kurdish region in the 1970s and 1980s linked to ethnic persecution; the 2003 U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq; and the ensuing wake of instability and internal conflict between 2006 and 2013. At the end of 2017, one in 10 Iraqis was an IDP.

The magnitude of the ISIL-related displacement crisis, the extensive history of displacement in Iraq, and IOM’s presence in the country were important factors that made Iraq a key case study. The study and its publications illuminate not only what the durable solutions framework can say about Iraq, but also what displacement in Iraq can say about the durable solutions framework.

Value added

To date, the study’s findings have been documented in more than a dozen reports and other articles. These findings answer or invite further research on some of the key challenges confronting those responding to or studying displacement:

  • Are IDPs reaching durable or temporary solutions, and what is the difference?
  • Is displacement an arrival point or a process?
  • What factors motivate IDPs to move more than once in displacement?
  • How do different populations within the IDP community—for example, female-headed households or children—experience displacement?
  • What informs IDPs’ decisions as they adjudicate between factors motivating them to stay in their host communities or return home?

Findings and data from the study, which is being made publicly available for the first time, might thus provide a wealth of information to governmental, policy, and academic circles working with the internally displaced globally.

Guidling Principles
definition of IDP:
“Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or (IDPs) obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.” Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (1998)
was defined for the first time in 2010 by the IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for IDPs, which states that “a durable solution is achieved when IDPs no longer have specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and such persons can enjoy their human rights without discrimination resulting from their displacement.”

IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for IDPs

This study is based on the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons. This rights-based framework strives to explain the concept of a durable solution and lay out general guidance on what it means to achieve a durable solution following internal displacement.

Pathways to durable solutions are generally considered to be return, integration, or resettlement/relocation and a durable solution is achieved when IDPs “no longer have any specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and can enjoy their human rights without discrimination on account of their displacement.”

The Framework was created to assist governments and humanitarian actors in understanding solutions to internal displacement and aid in finding ways to help IDPs achieve them. There are eight criteria laid out in the framework as measures to determine to extent a durable solution has been achieved. A short description of each criterion and findings from the IOM-GU study measuring indicators of each criterion of a durable solution follow. The descriptions below come directly from the framework. [1]

Safety and Security

“IDPs who have achieved a durable solution enjoy physical safety and security on the basis of effective protection by national and local authorities. This includes protection from those threats which caused the initial displacement or may cause renewed displacement. The protection of IDPs who have achieved a durable solution must not be less effective than the protection provided to populations or areas of the country not affected by displacement. While absolute safety and security may often not be achievable, IDPs must not be the subject of attacks, harassment, intimidation, persecution or any other form of punitive action upon return to their home communities or settlement elsewhere in the country…IDPs who have achieved a durable solution have full and non-discriminatory access to national and local protection mechanisms, including police, courts, national human rights institutions and national disaster management services.”

Standard of Living

“IDPs who have achieved a durable solution enjoy, without discrimination, an adequate standard of living… An adequate standard of living requires that at a basic minimum IDPs have adequate access, on a sustainable basis, to: Essential food and potable water; Basic shelter and housing; Essential medical services, including post-sexual assault care and other reproductive health care; Sanitation; [and] at least primary school education…. IDPs who have achieved durable solutions can access public services, including education, health care, social housing and other welfare measures, on the same basis as members of the resident population with comparable needs.”

Livelihood and Employment

“IDPs who found a durable solution also have access to employment and livelihoods. Employment and livelihoods available to IDPs must allow them to fulfil at least their core socio-economic needs, in particular where these are not guaranteed by public welfare program[ms]… It will not always be possible for all IDPs to gain employment or regain their previous livelihoods. However, IDPs must not face obstacles that prevent them from accessing employment and livelihoods on the same basis as residents.”

Housing, Land, and Property

“IDPs who have achieved a durable solution have access to effective mechanisms for timely restitution of their housing, [land, property and compensation,] regardless of whether they return or opt to integrate locally or settle elsewhere in the country…The right to restitution or compensation extends to all displaced persons —including men, women and children — who have lost ownership, tenancy rights or other access entitlements to their housing, land and property, whether they have formal or informal titles or rights on the basis of mere uncontested use or occupation…It is not necessary for this process to be fully concluded before IDPs can be said to have found a durable solution. The determining factor is that they have access to an effective and accessible mechanism for property restitution and compensation…and are able to reside safely and securely during the interim.”

Personal and Other Documentation

“IDPs who have achieved a durable solution have access to personal and other documentation necessary [for the enjoyment and exercise of their legal rights, such as] access public services, reclaim property and possessions, vote or pursue other purposes linked to durable solutions.” IDPs have the right to “the issuance of new documents or the replacement of documents lost in the course of displacement, without imposing unreasonable conditions, such as requiring the return to one’s area of habitual residence in order to obtain documents.”

Family Separation and Reunification

“IDPs who wish to reunite with family members from whom they were separated [by displacement should be reunited as quickly as possible, particularly when children, older persons or other vulnerable persons are involved,] and… seek a durable solution together.”

Participation in Public Affairs

“IDPs who have achieved a durable solution are able to exercise the right to participate in public affairs at all levels on the same basis as the resident population and without discrimination owing to their displacement. This includes the right to associate freely and participate equally in community affairs, to vote and to stand for election, as well as the right to work in all sectors of public service.”

Access to Justice

“IDPs who have been victims of violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, including arbitrary displacement must have full and non-discriminatory access to effective remedies and access to justice, including, where appropriate, access to existing transitional justice mechanisms, reparations and information on the causes of violations. Effective remedies include equal and effective access to justice; adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered; and access to relevant information concerning violations and reparation mechanisms…Reparations must adequately address the specific violations of rights suffered by IDPs with due attention paid to their nature, seriousness, scale and pattern.”

Geographic Coverage

This map is for illustration purposes only. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the International Organization for Migration.