As the displaced return to their homes and areas of origin, IOM Iraq acts to confront residual insecurity, property damage and loss, individual and collective trauma, insufficient livelihood opportunities and fractured social relations. Years of conflict and violence characterized by gross human rights violations, harsh living conditions, sustained uncertainty and the disruption of social networks have left many Iraqis struggling to deal with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. This creates a major barrier to local and national reconstruction.
IOM Iraq responds with a community-driven and -led approach to promote resilience, social cohesion and improved mental and emotional well-being in target areas. IOM supports internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities to regain a sense of safety and security, increase self- and community efficacy and develop tools to process trauma, regain hope and reclaim agency through a multi-faceted approach including: protection services, social cohesion programming, housing, land and property assistance (HLP), mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and livelihood activities. Frequent research projects and conflict assessments are conducted so that interventions are well-informed and appropriately tailored.
IOM Iraq continues to maintain a special focus on the needs of groups with uniquely complex experiences such as women, persons with disabilities, survivors of sexual violence and torture, the elderly and orphans.
IOM Iraq provides protection assistance to Iraq’s conflict affected populations, with specialized initiatives tailored to women, youth, migrants, persons with disabilities and other multiply marginalized groups that face heightened vulnerability to protection risks such as gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking. Initiatives are designed and implemented in line with key needs, gaps and community vulnerabilities identified through protection assessments, monitoring and awareness sessions. Projects include the provision of dignity and protection kits for menstruation, GBV case management, information counselling, referrals and emergency cash assistance. IOM Iraq supports vulnerable migrants and third country nationals with emergency cash assistance and case management for voluntary repatriation to countries of origin.
- Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPPS
IOM Iraq acts on multiple levels to improve community mental health and well-being, thereby increasing opportunities to rebuild community relations and improve material conditions. Through community centres and mobile teams, IOM offers: specialized MHPSS services, including psychiatric consultations and clinical psychological counselling; focused non-specialized services such as support groups, relaxation workshops and psychological first aid programming; community and family support services, including guided group discussions, MHPSS awareness-raising campaigns — particularly around suicide prevention — recreational art, music, sporting and cultural events; and enhanced access to basic services through awareness raising, advocacy, referrals and coordination with other international organizations, governmental authorities and civil society organizations.
IOM Iraq also supports local and national MHPSS capacity building, including working with the Government of Iraq (GoI) to develop a national suicide prevention strategy to help address gaps in surveillance systems, awareness, response and capacity to deal with suicidality countrywide.
- Social Cohesion
IOM Iraq implements social cohesion activities aimed at building trust and mutual understanding between IDPs, returnees and host community members. Initiatives also work to strengthen social cohesion within and among different ethnic and religious communities. To this end, IOM manages community centres where all community members can interact, engages people through dialogue groups, non-competitive sports and recreation activities and holds mediation trainings, caregivers’ courses and personal development trainings.
- Livelihood and Job Creation
To stimulate economic revitalization and rapidly increase access to work, IOM Iraq implements livelihood programming such as vocational training, income generation services and livelihoods grants. Recognizing the effect that stress has on functions like concentration, memory, self-esteem, emotional regulation and capacity to withstand pressures, IOM integrates MHPSS awareness sessions with livelihood programming to encourage more people to access the MHPSS community centres and overcome the barriers of stigma associated with seeking mental health services, thereby enhancing the likelihood of success of livelihood activities.
- Housing, Land and Property Assistance (HLP)
During the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) devastating occupation of parts of Iraq, many families lost not only their homes but their home ownership and occupancy documents, creating additional difficulties for returnees in securing appropriate shelter. IOM Iraq assists beneficiaries with restoration of property-title deeds and proof of ownership/occupancy documents, recovery of civil documentation and legal representation for inheritance claims. Facilitating civil documentation recovery for beneficiaries also alleviates the significant and often-reported challenge of insufficient access to services, as civil documentation is often a prerequisite for accessing government services.