New UN report calls on Government of Iraq to develop new urban policies for improving everyday life for all Baghdad residents.

 Baghdad, 2 June, 2011: A new UN report, Urban Baghdad: Impact of Conflict on Daily Life, calls on the Government of Iraq to work in collaboration with Iraqi NGOs, civil society, the UN and international partners to develop new urban policies for improving everyday life in Baghdad. Developed jointly by IOM, UN-HABITAT and UNAMI, the report highlights the displacement and fragmentation of the city caused by conflict, as well as poor access to basic services for internally displaced persons, host communities and those returning from displacement.

The report has been launched during the visit of the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Ms. Christine McNab. During his first visit to a field mission, Dr. Clos had different meetings with the Iraq Prime Minister, Noori Al Maliki, and the Minister of Construction and Housing, Muhammad Sahib Al Darriji and the Minister of Planning, Ali Yusif Abdul al Nabi Shakir.

The Iraqi Government and UN-Habitat has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in the implementation of the Iraq’s National Housing Policy, especially in implementing the pro-poor aspects of the policy, including informal settlement upgrading, special housing programmes for the poor and vulnerable, improving access to land and housing finance, and enacting revised housing construction norms and standards to reflect current affordability levels. The MoU was signed last Tuesday in the presence of the Prime Minister, Noori Al Maliki.

The UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Clos said: “The 70 percent of Iraqis live in cities. That number is growing, particularly in the five past years due to internally displaced persons who have migrated in large numbers to cities like Baghdad. Embracing new urban planning can be a future solution to improve daily life for Iraqi citizens. Well-planned and managed cities are centres of economic growth and job creation”.

Reflecting on Baghdad’s challenges, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Ms. Christine McNab said, “Baghdad’s current housing situation reflects not only the growing pains of cities globally, but also the extraordinary additional stresses experienced in cities throughout Iraq resulting from years of conflict, sanctions and displacement. This now represents one of the Government of Iraq’s most immediate challenges”.

Baghdad suffered the most intense effects of the violence and internal conflict. Tens of thousands of people were killed and more than a tenth of the city’s population of seven million was displaced. Many of those displaced within Baghdad and other areas of Iraq live in unacceptable conditions with limited access to basic services or income. Approximately 48,000 families live in 136 camps dotted around the city. “Baghdad’s displaced and returnee families still face numerous difficulties and an uncertain future. It is essential that we work hand-in-hand with the Government of Iraq to create lasting solutions for these vulnerable populations,” said Mike Pillinger, Chief of IOM’s Iraq Mission.

Access to basic services has been hampered by conflicts and sanctions stretching back thirty years. Housing shortages have led to overcrowding, and less than a quarter of households have reliable access to drinking water. Prolonged power cuts further impact on living conditions. Outside the household, recreational activities and facilities have been closed or off-limits since 2003. Open spaces normally used by families have become dumping grounds or are filled with sewage and stagnant water.

Baghdad’s youth and children have suffered from the conflict and the weak economy. 13% of youth have experienced harassment, threats or displacement. A quarter of young people are unemployed. Economic pressures within the family mean that 11% of children are forced to work.

Despite the challenges faced, conditions have generally improved since the height of the violence in 2006-2007. Conflict-related deaths have dropped, and nearly a third of those displaced have returned home. Improved security has also allowed greater freedom of movement and recreation in daily life.

Dr. Clos continued his visit with a meeting of the regional ministers in Kurdistan including Minister Falah Bakir, Dr Ali Sindi and Nawzad Hadi.

UN-HABITAT works with Government of Iraq counterparts to improve urban planning, water and sanitation, housing and land issues in the city, particularly focusing on long term solutions to improving living conditions for internally displaced people and the urban poor. IOM is continuing to assist vulnerable families by supporting their return and reintegration, developing their livelihoods, and building the capacity of the local and national authorities. Other UN agencies and UNAMI are working together to support the Government in finding solutions to these and many other urban planning challenges around the country.

For further information, please contact:
Bertram Chambers, IOM Iraq Mission,, +962 798940863
Fiona McCluney, UN-HABITAT Iraq Programme,, + 962 6 592 4889
For interviews, please contact:
Randa Jamal, UNAMI Public Information Office,

United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
Public Information Office, Baghdad
Phone: +3908 3105 2640
Mobile:+964 7901 931 281
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