Reframing Social Fragility in Areas of Protracted Displacement and Emerging Return in Iraq

This research, carried out in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration’s Community Revitalization Programme and Social Inquiry, provides an evidence-based analysis of social fragility at the micro-level in areas of protracted displacement and emerging returns in Iraq. Data collected on these dynamics and the information generated from it are used to propose a new design and implementation of social cohesion programmes, with the aim of supporting broader-scale stabilization, development and peacebuilding efforts.

Several factors need to be taken into account to understand social fragility and cohesion in terms of relationships within and between groups and between groups and the state. These factors include demographic history and diversity, governance and security, past development neglect by the state, shortage of livelihoods, human rights violations, and degree of community mobilization. In asking questions on these six vectors, common themes emerged across communities and population groups across Iraq.

Taking these dynamics into account, those who endeavour to promote social cohesion in areas of protracted displacement and emerging returns should keep in mind the perceived fairness of their interventions, the importance of allowing people to share narratives the need to build agency and mobilize people around goal-oriented actions, the need to focus on youth while paying heed to inter-generational dynamics, the creation of integrated public spaces for interaction, the importance of ongoing staff training, and the fact that social cohesion takes time. However, for any grassroots and localized changes to prevail, local and national authorities must also participate in developing strategies that address the needs and concerns of all those affected on the ground.

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