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Working on HLP in The Middle East

This Article may help my peacebuilding colleagues understand and address HLP issues in the Middle East. I believe that developing a robust and informed response to HLP challenges ensures a more culturally articulate and socially valuable humanitarian response, which will ultimately protect, support and strengthen the security and resilience of those affected by conflict and displacement.

Complacent protection of HLP rights amplifies the negative impacts of conflict and helps rekindle conflict or interrupt peacebuilding processes, especially within the most fragile social dynamics of the population. By revealing, addressing and communicating the key facets of HLP practice the NGO community, humanitarian actors, government and community leaders can maximise the potential of the humanitarian response in the Middle East and put conflict-affected and displaced people at the centre of their own recovery and reconstruction.

“The United Nations increasingly view HLP concerns as essential components of conflict-prevention and as an indispensable prerequisite for the rule of law.[1] The EU-UN Partnership on Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention is an example of this recognition.” [2] (NRC 2016)[3]

Therefore, this text helps broaden the understanding of Middle Eastern HLP which will in turn inform an appropriate and equitable approach. The article explores the everyday culture of internally displaced people who have endured the trauma of a long drawn-out precarious existence, many of whom have relied on long-term humanitarian aid and support from local and governmental sources. All the IDPs interviewed in this process show signs of suffering post-conflict emotional entanglement, which has been amplified or complicated by their displacement.

I explore the region’s post-conflict HLP challenges from a psychological and practical perspective whilst visiting official IDP camps, unofficial camp-sites within unfinished buildings and urban districts where most of the IDP rent and share accommodation.

I'll flag the types of disputes and areas of concern, whilst assessing the HLP issues which the vulnerable and marginalized members of the community face and struggle with (which also involves revisiting pre-conceived notions of who is vulnerable). This process examines HLP policy and law enforcement and identifies who are the local and international HLP actors whilst exploring methods of HLP support through communication, co-operation and education.

[1] UNHCR (2005): Housing, Land and Property Rights in Post-Conflict Societies: Proposals for a New United Nations Institutional and Policy Framework 

[3] The Importance of addressing Housing, Land and Property (HLP)

HLP Challenges       

The HLP challenges I worked with in the Middle East can be separated primarily into two basic overlapping categories, psychological and practical. [1]

From the psychological perspective, there are many challenges concerning the processes of helping the IDP, Stayee and Returnee, regaining trust in the HLP mechanisms, encouraging local ownership of HLP issues and developing communication devices whilst engaging with fragile individuals and communities suffering from post-conflict and/or displacement trauma. HLP challenges are amplified by the heightened combination of misinformation, raw traumatic memories and emotions of conflict and displacement and the social readjustments required after conflict.

From the pragmatic perspective, evidence suggests [2] that the current HLP challenges faced by IDPs are:

·        The management of (the alleged) deliberately destroyed and damaged HLP by the country’s authorities post-conflict

·        The damage to HLP through conflict

·        The lack of finances to pay rent for accommodation

·        The requirement for official documentation to rent a property

·        Overcrowding of urban areas

·        Poor or strained services when IPS temporarily reside

·        Lack of HLP processes and policy

·        Returning IDPs are refused passage

·        Secondary occupation

·        Ownership of HLP (Title Deeds)

·        Hazards from improvised explosive devices (IED)

·        Insecurity caused by fear of the return

·        Scapegoating

·        Creation of new land and property institutions

·        Illegal sales of property or

·        Illegal construction of additional property on land

·        HLP related trauma (For example, family fatalities, bombardment, imprisonment and structural collapse). Land or property used for unofficial burial sites and property used to house other crimes such as rape and slavery.


All IDPs suffer from emotional HLP challenges which are related to conflict and displacement.


However, during the research stage, the current reoccurring everyday challenges faced by IDP communities in the locations visited can be generally categorised into areas of primary and secondary importance, relative to conditions, context and displacement-stage. 

The primary and secondary importance vary depending on the IDPs ethnic orientation, social status and their accommodation (whether the IDPs reside in official camps, unofficial camps within unfinished buildings or renting / sharing accommodation in urban areas such as Mosul).


·        Official Camps

Ø  The primary HLP challenges are:

o   Receiving Information with regards the condition and ownership of their property

o   Forced Eviction

o   Raising the loss or confiscation of official HLP documentation

o   Access to property and land

o   Vulnerability of households that have a FHOH

o   Financial issues

o   Information about the security factors of returning home

o   IEDs 

o   ISIS related issues


Ø  The secondary HLP challenges are:

o   HLP services

o   Secondary ownership

o   HLP repair



·        Unofficial Camps in unfinished buildings

Ø  The primary HLP challenges are:

o   Receiving information with regards the condition and ownership of their property

o   Forced eviction

o   Applications for permanent residency


Ø  The secondary HLP challenges are:

o   HLP services and security in the place of original residency

o   Social cohesion in the place of original residency


Renting / sharing accommodation in urban areas

Ø  The primary HLP challenges are:

o   Overcrowding

o   Forced eviction

o   Services

o   Financial issues

o   Property destruction (those from West Mosul)

o   Secondary occupation

o   Rental issues

o   Local authority support mechanism


Ø  The secondary HLP challenges are:

o   Property paperwork (ownership)

o   Legal support

o   Punitive action

o   Security

o   The international management local and national governmental redevelopment agencies  



[1] Emergency response to Housing, Land and Property issues in Iraq, Briefing note | December 2016 Matthew Flynn & Stuart Brooks 


Types of HLP Disputes    


HLP disputes represent a source of instability and potential violence in the Middle East; their mismanagement may prevent durable solutions for the returning populations and is a genuine concern with regards their potential to disrupt the fragile peacebuilding processes in the country.

Currently there are a number of HLP disputes that seem to be most common, however, these disputes will evolve and change as the conflict or direct violence settles and changes tack. As rural areas, towns and villages are safer, passage becomes safer and people begin to return in greater numbers. Resolving HLP issues will become more of a peacebuilding factor and the management of HLP disputes an important aspect of public stability[1].  

The current dispute types featured in this post are mainly urban in nature and recorded by other NGOs such as the NRC and UN-Habitat. The primary areas of dispute are:

1.      Safe Access to Housing Land Property

2.      Rental cost

3.      Compulsory IDP returns

4.      Cultural discrimination with regards HLP rights

5.      The apparent clandestine destruction of property by military or police

6.      Hazards within property not being removed

7.      The seizure or loss of identification documents relating to property.

The other disputes recorded by other NGOs [1]were:

HLP Ownership – A dispute over HLP ownership post-conflict. Property may have changed hands many times during the duration of the conflict. Property may be legitimately considered bought, earned or inherited by several families.   

Unofficial HLP contracts and obligations

Secondary Occupation – this refers to those who, “take up residence in a home or on land after the legitimate owners or users have fled. Secondary occupants may also be victims of conflict. Care must be taken to protect the rights of the original owners or users, but also to protect the secondary occupants against forced eviction, homelessness or other human rights violation” (UNHCR).

Evictions – Forced Evictions

Landlord demands – Overcrowding the property, demanding escalating rental rates, refusing to repair or service the property etc. 

Rental commitments – The accumulation of rental debt due to inflated rental rates or the loss of the resident family’s primary wage earner.

Property damage – The compensation for damage to property.

Restitution (Competitive victimhood and compensatory rights)·       

HLP Opportunism (Land grabbing, building material theft)  

HLP & Marginalised Groups       

During my field work which was conducted within an already precarious context of post-conflict, displaced and vulnerable people in need, a layer of other vulnerable and marginalised groups began to reveal themselves. Women and children are mostly regarded as vulnerable; they are particularly vulnerable to tenure insecurity, homelessness and other human rights violations. There is a growing concern that women are struggling to access humanitarian assistance and exercise their right to return, restitution and resettlement, regardless of their family status or whether their name is recorded on tenure documentation. Women are at risk of GBV, land-grabbing and struggle with the local practices of traditional protection versus economic stability and independence.[1]

The mentally or physically challenged among the IDP also appear to be marginalized. The disabled are an extra strain on families and require medication, care and attention. Mothers are frustrated and desperate for assistance or recognition with regards to their child’s distressed condition. The disabled are often home-bound, out of sight and overlooked. Many disabled require specialist attention and are unable to communicate their rights sufficiently to prevent HLP opportunism and manipulation.

There is also the marginalisation of the uneducated, poverty-stricken rural groups[2]. These groups struggle to make themselves heard and have difficulty understanding the HLP policies and documentation required to support their HLP rights. The rural families which have modest accommodations on farmland often have no proof of ownership or land rights. Furthermore, it has become apparent that many would prefer to stay in their new urban homes. 

The final marginalised group of people evident in this assessment are those who are struggling to respond to allegations of ISIS affiliation or involvement. Some families that stayed during the ISIS occupation are viewed with suspicion and loathing.  IDPs emerging from the last areas of ISIS control were displaced by the fighting or by the military. These displaced families report their homes and property are being systematically destroyed and their male family members and paperwork detained. There is a concern that this group may become the most vulnerable, a potentially marginalised scapegoat group which requires international NGO supervision and observation.

HLP Policy and Law Enforcement

Pinheiro Principles, Principle 2 - All refugees and IDPs have the right to have restored to them any HLP of which they were unlawfully deprived; or to be compensated when restitution is factually impossible”.  UNHCR[1]

The clear majority of the IDPs, Returnees and Stayees spoken to during my fieldwork did not understand or were not aware of their HLP rights. A general feeling was that these laws did not apply to them and that they would never be honoured by any government.  The IDPs were unsure where or to whom, they would speak to, with regards to their claims. They were also under the impression that this would come at a financial cost and that they would run the risk of angering the authorities in their requests for compensation.

All the displaced people spoken to, were unaware of possible compensatory processes, legal time frames, and policies addressing the issue of secondary occupants.

The policy regarding secondary occupation. The fact that, one does not automatically lose ownership through non-use (particularly if one continues to possess a title deed – Tapu) and that adverse possession which is obtained by force, deception, or in secret has no effect whatsoever (Art. 1146). That IDPS can restore possession via a possessory action, which is a legal procedure that comes from the civil law tradition (Art. 1150), they can restore possession via a usurpation action, which is a legal procedure that comes from the Mejelle tradition (Art. 192 – 201) and that Usurpation action applies to both moveable and immoveable property (Art. 197).

In Iraq for example, The Council of Ministers Decree number 262 of 2008 addressing the financial needs of returnees, the Cabinet Order 54 of 2009[2] which supports reconstruction and provision of basic services and Law No. 20 of 2009: Compensating the victims of Military Operations, Military Mistakes and Terrorist Actions. (Displaced Iraqis, 2010)

Law No. 20 (2009) Those Affected by War & Military Operations and that it applied to Property damage (post-2003), Loss of employment or educational opportunities, Injuries (based on medical report), Partial or total disability (based on medical report), Death (martyrdom) or missing family member. However, everyone had heard of the rumour that 1 Million IQD is being paid out by the government. This rumour, treated as though it was an urban myth was a source of amusement. Not one person knew of anyone that had received it and no one knew of how to claim compensation. The reality is that there is a Constitution of Iraq (2005), and an Iraq Property Claims Commission (IPCC), It is a quasi-judicial body convened by Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2004. It was given constitutional legitimacy in 2005 (see Art. 136) Following transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi government, IPCC was replaced by the Commission for the Resolution of Real Property Disputes (CRRPD, 2006), which was later replaced by Property Claims Commission (PCC, 2010).

*There are three issues worth noting, with regards the policy and enforcement aspects of HLP.

First, is the perceived lack of valid governmental support and validation of the policies and processes relating to HLP issues.

Second, is the possible impact on the state’s infrastructure both financially and administratively. 

Third, is the potential for further violence and social disruption. If uncorroborated, poorly facilitated or the government is unable and unwilling to support HLP claims, the repercussive impact of this un-filtered information will have on the efforts to create an environment which promotes peacebuilding and social stability, may be disastrous. 

HLP Education


Developing an educational mechanism with which to address HLP issues in post-conflict communities such as Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon, is a complicated and provocative process. A process that without government collaboration and validation will inevitably lack impetuous and could, rather than facilitate a peacebuilding process, amplify tensions and spark renewed violence. If the proposed HLP mechanism is based on the legal rights of the community, then it is important to authenticate, consolidate and perhaps simplify achievable principles regarding a holistic ‘national’ approach to HLP governmental policy. This way an effective strategy can develop, one which builds on the state’s legal infrastructure, quickly yields presentable precedents and develops the population’s trust in the state’s HLP intentions. In other words, providing the ‘purchase’ from which the HLP programme and its educational initiatives can grow.

*Developing an educational support structure based on international law and human rights, without consolidating and achieving state acknowledgement, whilst understanding its capacity to support the varied HLP rights of its population, could perpetuate post conflict trauma, cause further irritation and help those with an agenda to disrupt the country’s peacebuilding efforts. 

In parallel to developing sound legal footing for HLP support, it is important to find staff to communicate and guide the population though HLP policy and disputes, staff that are natural educators, with empathy and patience, that can adapt and communicate complex material punctuated by unfamiliar vocabulary to all members of the population, regardless of educational or cultural background.

The staff recruited to support communities in their HLP related issues, should initially participate in a structured HLP course, (4 stage programme of education, discourse and ownership).

  1. Basic LTA

  2. HLP familiarization

  3. HLP assistance programme

  4. LTA and communication.

Before the HLP course starts in earnest, it would be prudent to consider a basic learning, teaching and assessment workshop (LTA), a plug-in course, positioned before and after they are taught the HLP familiarization and assistance course content.

After a brief introduction to educational tools, pitfalls, techniques and methods, the HLP scholar begins their familiarization stage. They are taught the definition of HLP, the nature of HLP (from an international, national and local perspective) and the role of HLP within Iraq’s post-conflict peacebuilding processes.

After showing that the scholar has taken ownership of the subject’s meaning, its social, economic and political implications, the HLP assistance stage of the programme starts. This stage should begin by explaining the basic rights the population have with regards post-conflict housing, property and land issues, the nuances of land registration (Tapo), tenure, security tenure, secondary occupation etc, and apply them to international, national, local law, legislation and governance.

As the staff become more comfortable with the notion of HLP as a point of reference, they are well positioned to start examining the links between HLP, conflict and displacement, and to develop an awareness of HLP as a cause of displacement, a means of encouraging displacement, and the HLP consequence of displacement,  (i.e. the loss of shelter and livelihood and the risk of disputes in places of origin and refuge).

There is a lot of information to absorb. It is important to vary the content delivery and provide plenty of breaks and opportunities to ask questions.

The next step is to unpack the HLP programme and present them as core challenges. The core challenges would be:

  • HLP Support and access to information

  • FHOH and HLP Rights

  • Rural HLP Issues

  • Urban HLP Issues

  • HLP Disputes

  • Methods of dispute resolution models, methods and approaches (tribal/ land courts/ land committees

  • HLP Paperwork (Lack of documentation through loss, confiscation, destruction or a lack of original documentation in the first place) 

  • Communication of HLP process and practice

  • HLP programme administrative structure and protocol


The education of HLP-aware staff is a critical aspect of providing an equitable and sustainable humanitarian response and will ultimately protect, support and strengthen the security and resilience of those affected by conflict in Iraq. Poor or confused support of HLP rights exacerbates the negative impacts of war, especially on the most vulnerable groups of the population. By addressing the key concerns with the support of the human rights community, humanitarian actors with municipal sponsorship can maximise the potential of peacebuilding initiatives and put conflict affected people at the centre of their own recovery and reconstruction.

Locally narrated information has been successfully used in Afghanistan for the past seventeen years. Radio ‘New Home, New Life’ is broadcast three times a week at prime time for fifteen minutes. It addresses a wide range of social, economic, political and humanitarian problems, including conflict resolution, health, hygiene, the oppression of women and the dangers of unexploded landmines. The radio programme has become an integral part of the local peacebuilding culture in Afghanistan and could be adapted to an Iraqi context, engaging HLP issues and broadening a general cross-generational awareness of HLP issues in Iraq.

Creating a cross-generational awareness of HLP issues is a useful way of establishing a cultural consciousness with regards to HLP rights and practice. The ‘Hazagora’ game is a game designed to raise awareness by encouraging interaction and discussion between the different generations of a family who share a household. The game helps establish a mindfulness regarding geohazards and disaster risk reduction. The game is supported by short films that explain the characteristics and dangers of the various geo-hazards. The game originated in Belgium designed by Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium and is current being adapted by NGOs for application in Sri Lanka and is connected to research in the ‘digital humanitarian response’ by Patrick Meier.

Although digital responses to humanitarian emergencies are the future to some degree, there is no replacement for the laminated A5 or wallet-size information cards.

Easily assessable, requires no electricity and can be copied by hand or machine, the humble multi-card tool is cost-efficient, is quickly developed and distributed. The cards can provide information about HLP phone line, HLP unit locations, summarised legal information and even a degree of government authentication.  

The International Organisation for Migration has an excellent opportunity to develop an HLP programme with education as a key feature. The HLP educational programme can be delivered in many ways. An important mechanism would be local mobile units that can be designed to offer clear, authentic information which is easily absorbed and well supported. The units can operate nimbly, in other words, without the risk of individual case entanglement but offering HLP subject-specific guidance with the confidence that what is delivered, is endorsed, relevant, sympathetic and impactful.

HLP Actors

The HLP actors in Iraq are a disorientating combination of local and international NGOs, police, army, militia, host community leaders, religious leaders, IDP community leaders, Mukhtars, governmental officials, tribal chiefs and a plethora of so called informed individuals.

The NGOs fully engaged in issues relating to HLP besides IOM are the NRC, UNHCR, UNDP, IFRC and UN-Habitat, all of which have HLP elements to a programme or a specific HLP programme. Collectively the aforementioned NGOs represent a Global Protection Cluster and the Rule of Law Thematic Group within the Solutions Alliance.   (Mainstreaming housing, land and property (hlp) issues into key humanitarian, transitional and development planning tools)

There is also an ICLA facility addressing Information, counselling and legal assistance, an initiative directed by the NRC and developed to receive referrals or directly address HLP rights.

NRC's legal assistance[1] (ICLA) programmes support refugees and IDP women and men in 20 conflict-affected countries to claim their rights. ICLA has four main elements which are:

1.      Housing, land and property (HLP) rights

2.      Access to a legal identity

3.      Support to apply for refugee status

4.      Support to register as an internally displaced person (IDP)

Recently this year NRC announced, “62 % of IDPs interviewed maintained that they did not know about any actors which may assist them with their HLP needs. 26 % per cent reported that authorities should assist them, however follow up questions indicate that the high level of corruption and requests for bribery prevent IDPs from approaching the authorities.”  NRC Iraq 2017[2]

New to the portfolio of HLP programmes operating in the North of Iraq is the NGO Mercy Hands announcing that, “This month, October 2017, Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid is launching a new protection program in Mosul regarding providing legal services to families that have the rights of their houses, lands, or properties (HLP) violated. There are different types of HLP violations, such as destruction, eviction from origin/ denied return, confiscation or expropriation of HLP, and compensation of lack of. These HLP violations represent a major problem in Mosul, just like it is the case in other areas that were occupied by ISIS, in Ninewa, Anbar, Salah Al Din, and Kirkuk governorates”.

Mercy Hands propose[3]:

1- To conduct a survey‐based needs assessment in target location to identify HLP claims and concerns of residents.

2‐ To provide awareness raising sessions to the most vulnerable families on Housing, Land, Property rights, with a focus on female‐headed households and people with disabilities.

3‐ To provide awareness-raising sessions to local authorities to stress the need for housing, land, and property restitution, and the important role of the reconciliation process.

4‐ To disseminate information related to housing, land, and property rights and redress mechanisms through various methods (flyers, social media, and booklets/leaflets).

5‐ To restore occupancy certificates, civil documents, and tenure rights documents targeting 1,000 households, of which 40%‐50% are female‐headed households.

From an everyday IDP perspective this assessment process acknowledges that there are, In Camp HLP Actors and HLP Actors outwith an IDP Camp Context. Inside the camps there are tribal leaders that support families in their HLP related challenges; the tribal leaders also provide useful support to FHOH and other vulnerable members of the community. There are also informed individuals that provide some knowledge of HLP rights and there is a fair amount of information gained from local police and military personnel sympathetic to the IDP’s requests for information[4].  HLP Actors outwith an IDP Camp Context are more conventional. There are a variety of informed individuals providing HLP information. However, the majority of HLP actors are local and international NGOs, the police, army, militia, host community leaders, religious leaders, IDP community leaders, Mukhtars, governmental officials, tribal chiefs and a plethora of so called informed individuals.

*It is important to note that there is a growing disregard for the services provided by local authorities and many a request for NGO intervention has been heard.

*There are several HLP actors which could be developed. There could be a youth HLP group and an active Female HLP support group. (It is quite possible that there are such groups however during this assessment and further research, it was difficult to locate them)

My HLP work in the Middle East found that

  • IDP families have little understanding or belief that there is a nationwide, authentic and impartial legislative approach by governments to address practical or financial assistance, dedicated to addressing the post-conflict HLP issues faced by the country’s IDP.

•             IDP families expect the governmental services to address current HLP issues, explaining that it is important that rebuilding and legal processes are a national process but must be overseen or facilitated by an International NGO or NGOs such as UNDP.

•             Most IDPs, would like to return home. (When asked “Do you want to return”? The answer is “No.”  Fear and lack of services, security and access, being the main reasons why they do not wish to return. However, when asked “would you like to go home”, the answer is a resounding “Yes”, a sense of belonging, place and community, re-ownership of family-built homes, memories and developing a livelihood again, being the main reasons.)

•             IDPs wishing to leave formal or informal camps have trouble, accessing their home towns or villages, obtaining conveyance permission, guaranteeing their own or their assets’ security. Families are often sent back, males arrested and detained indeterminately, and / or essential paperwork withheld.

•             Those leaving villages, towns and cities after liberation from Daesh are stopped and assessed by militia, army and police. Many males are detained for questioning, and paperwork confiscated. On arrival at an official camp, the families are screened by the army and individuals thought to have an affiliation with the opposition, are moved to detention centres for processing, leaving many families with a female head of household (FHOH). With no adult males and no official paperwork (the males normally carry these documents) the FHOH finds it difficult to access the HLP and social security system.

•             Evidence of deaths and injury, due to misiles, drone and bombs in and around properties.

•             The risk of reoccurring violence resulting from the impact that displacement has on young adolescent generation. IDP families worry about their children’s social skills, their familiarity with violence and intimidation, their fear of other ethnic groups and the lack of education and employment potential.

•             The impact HLP issues have on the local community and its social cohesion whilst wrestling with the entangled emotions of post-conflict trauma and displacement, have far reaching implications.  (For example, many public buildings and land have been used by Daesh for interrogation, torture, punishment and murder. Public buildings such as schools, where children will return, knowing that this was the last place their family members were seen alive or were interrogated, punished or murdered. Buildings where aid agencies and traumatised communities often hold meetings. Some of those community representatives may themselves have experienced first-hand violence in those locations). Out with the public buildings, local reports of missing family members buried in unmarked graves nearby or local wells used as makeshift grave sites are common place, adding to the IDP’s reticence to return.

•             The alleged destruction of homes and villages by militia, the burning of property belonging to combatant members, affiliates, sympathisers or those associated with an aggressor.  

•             The enthusiasm of some senior governmental figures to help develop plans to address HLP issues and acknowledge past mistakes, for example, forcing IDPs to return against their will.

•             A four-stage strategy, geared to facilitate the IDP’s return home (proposed by Mosul Mayor & district chief, Zuher Muhsen Al Araji and supported by Mayor, of Al Muhalabyah)

•             A great many IDP homes are not destroyed completely and it would take minimal attention to property to render them habitable. (Repair to doors windows and minor structural repair.)

•             Host communities are showing signs of social and charitable fatigue, some neighbourhoods in the cities are chronically overcrowded and their facilities overly stretched or failing.

•             A growing discourse between IDP families, suggesting a divide between camp and non-camp dwelling IDP, their conditions, aid entitlement, mindset and HLP reasons to remain displaced.

•             An increased interest in legal guidance and information from UNOPS and other free phonelines.

•             Willingness of tribal chiefs, the Mukhtar and Sheikh to support the disabled, women and children in their challenges to regain paperwork or register HLP issues.

•             Few IDPs have reported direct HLP disputes, besides unreasonable rental charges and eviction which are dealt with locally and rarely by official means. Many cannot return and have little information with regards the condition or occupancy of their property. Those that do have the means from which to assess their property’s condition, choose to stay until the situation changes.

•             HLP Education packages are comprehensively approached by NRC (Please ref: appendix) although without central government policy reform, acknowledgment and a varied approach to delivery, the packages may struggle to impact on the everyday local community. 

•             Communication of HLP challenges, successes and protocol requires further consideration and development. (Radio, social media, chatbot, roleplay thus supporting the more conventional methods of phone help-line, posters and talks).

•             HLP issues have an urban or rural dynamic, they also differ when viewed through an ethnic, class or religious lens.

•             Whilst focusing on ‘friction-points’ (HLP situations that may ignite into violence), it would be useful to explore the promotion of ‘ease points’ (situations that create a meaningful and positive network of examples, setting a precedent for IDP return, thus developing trust in the process and countering the malicious rumours used to create fear and manipulate the IDP’s options at a local level).

•             The entanglement of displacement data, obscuring the true nature of displacement due to conflict. Iraq also suffers from displacement pressures due to migration trends, natural causes and economic reasons.

•             The opportunity for a cohesive and collaborative HLP programmatic approach, which is underpinned by a robust HLP component to IOM’s strategic operations, a programme that has drawn together all aspects of considered HLP engagement, research and communication, creating a source of contemporary and valid material. A productive component part of peacebuilding, positioned to inform individuals, communities, local and national government, whilst supporting a network of international aid agencies in their humanitarian goals.

•             The impact HLP issues have on post-conflict trauma and in particular, the challenges faced by returnees. In other words, elements of their built environment (halls, schools, factories etc) have been used for traumatic activities such as interrogation, torture, incarceration and murder. It is highly likely that after liberation, these buildings will adopt another role, being used for NGO and community meetings. However, it is essential that before using such buildings they are properly researched, and their past use understood. These building may embody horrific memories and meaning for the local community. The issues relating to these structures, if not addressed will become an everyday reminder of the conflict, thus perpetuating the trauma and social hostility.

Moreover, if schools are to be repopulated by children for whom the building was the place where their fathers, brothers and cousins were interrogated or last seen, this is then a serious example of how HLP can underpin the fear and anger felt by generations to come.

In the process of this report IDP have spoken of countless missing people (murdered by ISIS) buried in areas around the communities, sometimes using village wells as makeshift grave sites. ISIS would not release the whereabouts of the dead to their families in order to compound the grief.        


These findings suggest an opportunity to develop and amplify the IOM’s humanitarian impact in The Middle East. To re-visit aspects of the current HLP approach, consolidate and take ownership of all facets related to this essential aspect of peacebuilding in the region. An opportunity to deliver the potential of HLP practice, underpinned by activities including but not limited to, the resolution of HLP disputes, based on nationwide rule of law principles and the acknowledgment of what has (or has not), been working well for the respective communities. The findings highlight the importance of establishing an inclusive, authentic and transparent HLP mechanism, developed to help support positive and durable solutions aimed at socio-economic recovery, social cohesion and reconciliation in the country.

[2] Protection and ICLA Needs Assessment Summary Report for East Mosul, Erbil, Iraq 2017

[1] the importance of addressing housing, land and property (HLP) Challenges in Humanitarian Response. BY, NRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.2016 

[1] Housing, Land and Property (HLP) Issues facing Returnees in Retaken Areas of Iraq: A Preliminary Assessment


Al-Hashd             The People's Mobilization Forces (PMF), or the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)

CET                       Community Engagement Team

CRP                       Community Revitalization Programme

CRRPD                 Commission for the Resolution of Real Property Disputes

CSR                       Community Stabilization and Revitalization

Daesh                   The Arabic acronym for transliteration for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

DOE                      Department of Operations and Emergencies

EL                          Emergency Livelihoods

FHOH                    Female Head of House

HLP                       Housing, Land and Property

HOH                      Head of household

ICLA                      Information Counselling and Legal Assistance

IDMC                    Internal displacement monitoring centre

IDP                        Internally displaced person

IED                        Improvised Explosive Device

IPCC                     Iraqi Property Claims Commission

LPR                       Land, Property and Reparations Division

MPICE                  Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments

Mukhtar              Elected Head of a district

NRC                      The Norwegian Refugee Council

QIP                       Quick Impact Projects

R-CAP                  Recovery Action Plan

RRP                       Rapid Recovery Programme

Sheikh                 Tribal ruler, who inherited the title from his father.

TRD                       Transition and Recovery Division

TRU                      Transition and Recovery Unit

UNAMI                United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq

UNDP                   The United Nations Development Programme

UNHCR                The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNOPS                United Nations Office for Project Services


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