Identifying Protection Concerns for Humanitarian Response in Iraq

Iraq – Almost 3.1 million displaced Iraqis are searching for safety inside their own country. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is at the forefront of the humanitarian response in Iraq. IOM piloted its first gender assessment across the country in 2015 in order to analyze the differing needs and concerns of women, men, boys and girls in camp and camp-like settings following the onset of the Iraq crisis in 2014. This field exercise led to the publication of the “Gendered Perspective: Safety Dignity and Privacy for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Living in Camp and Camp-like Settings in Iraq”, which outlines the main perceived risks and gendered vulnerabilities in displacement and informal sites.

Such an assessment not only helped contextualize the Iraqi situation but also provided much-needed baseline data for protection actors, including Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Child Protection responders, as well as those working in-country on Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) issues. The participation of protection actors throughout this analysis process facilitated synergies that continue to support joint efforts and response.

Under the centrality of protection, any humanitarian response must seek to avoid exacerbating patterns of violence, abuse or deprivation, and to prevent, mitigate, or end existing and potential risks[1]. These objectives require continuous identification of risks, vulnerabilities and ways to reduce threats, as well as the responsibility to address these risk factors to restore human safety and dignity; a commitment IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) strives to address.

Given the complexity of the Iraqi conflict and humanitarian situation, operational capacity and overall monitoring and advocacy are limited by access issues, among other challenges. These constraints affect the availability of country-wide information for operational and protection actors to prioritize resources strategically.

IOM has managed to provide timely displacement movement figures in Iraq through its 123 enumerators and network of more than 9,500 key informants. Through the protection-enhanced component of the DTM methodology, the unit has the capacity to collect site-level data that can flag vulnerable unaccompanied children and assess GBV risks caused by camp or site layouts and shelter and by service delivery, such as WASH or core relief items. It can also contribute to identifying indications of trafficking at key migration flow points and provide countrywide statistics for sex-age disaggregation or estimated early marriage cases.

Such information is none-identifying but provides protection actors with flags that can be followed-up with in-depth assessments by protection specialists. It also offers information for other sectors to mainstream GBV risk mitigation measures in their own line of work.

Today, Iraq DTM has integrated the collection of protection-enhanced tools in most of its products, and closely works with protection partners to improve its data collection and sharing through joint standard operating procedures (SOPs) with the Protection cluster, GBV sub-cluster, and Child Protection sub-cluster. The SOPs clearly indicate the type of data collected, sharing frequency, levels of data sensitivity, data protection policies, and facilitate continuous collaboration to ensure capacity for protection-enhanced data collection.

These SOPs have prompted a number of unique initiatives; for instance, IOM DTM had the opportunity to co-lead with UNICEF workshops to contextualize what unaccompanied and seperated children are understood as in Iraq. DTM data has been critical for the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) process and is cited by the GBV and Child Protection clusters in the HRP 2017 and often used for cluster programming.

DTM has just collected (February–March 2017) site-level, Safety Audits and CCCM assessments in informal settlements. Both tools have been mainstreamed to collect GBV risks and will be shared to technical and non-technical responders to reduce and mitigate GBV where possible. In continuing to increase access to information, DTM already has a protected page on its portal to share sensitive data to its SOP members; for the first time, however, it will share site-level GBV risk-mitigation data that is non-sensitive from safety audits on a geo-portal released in April 2017.