Preparing for the Future: Protecting Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

February 29, 2008


The Brookings Institution and Human Rights First convened an off-the-record meeting to discuss future scenarios for Iraq’s 4-million-plus refugees and internally displaced persons. The meeting drew 48 participants from a broad cross-section of the humanitarian and other communities, including academic researchers, humanitarian and human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), US government participants from the Departments of Defense and State, UN and other intergovernmental organizations and Iraqi refugees. The meeting began with plenary discussions on possible humanitarian scenarios inside Iraq (attached in the Annex) which were followed by separate working groups on IDPs and on refugees, and a final session drawing the themes together.

There has been considerable discussion of the immediate humanitarian needs of the more than four million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); therefore this meeting focused on how to address longer-term challenges.

Participants considered various scenarios for future security developments and their potential impact on both humanitarian action in Iraq and durable solutions for the displaced – in Iraq and throughout the region. It is hoped that this meeting will stimulate thinking – and concrete planning – for the future.

The meeting was held under Chatham House rules and given the wide range of viewpoints, no attempt was made to develop a consensus statement. This paper is thus presented not as a consensus document by participants nor as a comprehensive summary of proceedings. Rather it is intended to stimulate debate about a number of fundamental issues which will need to be addressed to alleviate suffering and manage the impact of Iraq’s displacement crisis. Finding solutions for Iraq’s displaced people – who currently make up some 20 percent of the country’s population – is central to security in the country and the region.

This paper includes some occasionally paraphrased comments from participants. Respecting the off-the-record nature of the meeting, no individual or organization is identified.

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