17 April 2003

UN Human Settlements Programme Assists in Providing Shelter for Internally Displaced People in Northern Iraq

AMMAN/NAIROBI, 15 April (UN-HABITAT) -- As the lead agency in the United Nations system for the shelter sector and in particular, for urban reconstruction and rehabilitation, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has continued emergency assistance to new internally displaced people, IDPs, in northern Iraq.

UN-HABITAT is coordinating the planning and implementation of shelter sector activities in post-conflict Iraq within the policy framework and under the overall guidance of the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. This work includes immediate assistance to IDPs in terms of selection and preparation of sites, planning, installation and repair of basic services, condition monitoring and damage assessment of critical housing and infrastructure, and their repair and rehabilitation.

UN-HABITAT is finalizing preparations to provide assistance to IDP camps in the three northern governorates, namely Delizian, Ashkawtwan and Jenarook Camps in Erbil and Tanahi Camp in Dahuk, as well as Basian, Sordash, Maydan and Hajyawa camps in Suliemanyah catering for close to 6000 families. UN-HABITAT has also made available a range of construction materials and heavy machinery and is happy to note that the necessary co-operative and management arrangements are in place and running smoothly.

This work covers site preparation and layout, building of access and internal roads, building of temporary structures such as health centres, stores, and staff administration buildings, construction of water and sanitation facilities in coordination with the United Nations Children's Fund. Additional tents have also been offered by the Government of Norway.

"If called upon by the United Nations Security Council, UN-HABITAT is ready to extend further support to emergency assessment of housing and services, provide emergency housing, water and sewage treatment, undertake immediate measures for solid waste management in affected urban areas", said Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. "We have considerable experience from other post-conflict zones, in rehabilitating local institutions and authorities, building capacity of local professionals and self-help groups of men and women."

This work can be undertaken in three stages, essentially rapid humanitarian needs assessment for the shelter sector against the background of short-, medium- and long-term needs. Hopefully, this will be followed by stepping up the agency's presence in all areas of Iraq with the existing over 600 national and international experts; partnerships will also be established with other experts from external institutions on a global basis. Specialized multi-disciplinary expert teams will be formed to address IDPs, emergency assessment and repair, capacity building, and medium- to long-term strategic planning for sustainable urban reconstruction.

For more information, contact: Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson & Head, Press & Media Relations Unit, tel: (254 2) 623153, Zahra A. Hassan, Media Liaison, tel: (254 2) 623151, fax: (254 2) 624060, e-mail: habitat.press@unhabitat.org, Web site: www.unhabitat.org

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