Statement from IOM Iraq Chief of Mission for International Migrants Day 2022
Baghdad -- Today, on International Migrants Day, IOM reaffirms its commitment to upholding the human rights of migrants at every stage of their journey. IOM has assisted millions of migrants since it was established in 1951 and continues to lead the way in promoting the orderly and humane management of migration.
Every year, we see people around the world leaving their homes due to conflict, disease, disaster and – increasingly – climate change. Climate migration is already a reality in Iraq, where IOM has been tracking climate-induced displacement across the central and southern regions since June 2018. As of 15 September 2022, 10,464 families (62,784 individuals) have been displaced because of drought conditions across ten governorates. As environmental changes intensify, the rate of displacement is likely to increase exponentially.
Drought, land degradation and increased salinity in important rivers and tributaries continue to place a strain on the agricultural sector. With many families unable to guarantee sufficient and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, we see their arrival in urban centres in search of livelihood opportunities. But these urban centres already struggle with economic security and governance and are not prepared to accommodate them.
A 2021 IOM study found that over half of migrant households in Basra reported that they could not afford enough food or basic items, and 53 per cent did not have access to a financial safety net. Migrants also reported higher levels of exclusion from access to public services and other rights, which includes employment support, policing, formal dispute resolution and guarantees on property rights.
Iraq is still recovering from years of conflict that have devastated its population and caused massive displacement – and now with soaring temperatures, water scarcity and diminishing quality of the water that remains, the gains made through the collective efforts of the Government of Iraq, IOM and partners are at risk.
In line with IOM’s Global Migration Environment and Climate Change (MECC) Strategy and the UN Network for Migration’s prioritization of MECC-related programming, IOM Iraq will coordinate and collaborate with partners to enhance disaster risk reduction strategies and address challenges related to displacement or irregular migration flows stemming from environmental degradation and water scarcity in particular. This includes strategies to address tensions over dwindling resources and support to Government entities to adjust or develop new policies to strengthen access to livelihoods and services in the agricultural field.
Through the Global Compact for Migration, under which Iraq is a leading member of the Champions Country Initiative, IOM will continue to support the Government of Iraq in responding to the growing challenges faced by migrants and their host communities more broadly – challenges including social exclusion; barriers to accessing essential health services; labour exploitation; trafficking; and more.
As Chief of Mission, I am proud to lead a team where respect for the rights, dignity and well-being of migrants is central to everything we do. At IOM, we firmly believe that everyone benefits when migrants are provided with access to the support services they need.
On behalf of the entire team at IOM Iraq, today we reiterate our commitment to promoting safe, orderly and humane migration management – in Iraq and across the world.