. ( dpa )- Iraq is still facing a serious humanitarian crisis despite reduced displacement and decreasing levels of violence, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in Geneva Friday.
In its 2007 review of Iraqi displacement, the IOM said the number of Iraqis returning home remained extremely limited. There are more than 2.4 million Iraqis internally displaced and 2 million living as refugees.
Fewer people were displaced in 2007, the organization said, due mainly to the homogenization of communities as residents from other sects had already left.
In December, the Iraqi authorities, which have offered an 800- dollar payment to families registering as returnees, reported 3,650 families had registered in Baghdad with another 6,000 waiting to be registered.
The IOM said 31 per cent of the displaced claimed that their property was now occupied by other citizens. Legal disputes over homes were likely to become a major issue, said the report.
The majority of people assessed by the IOM had been displaced since the al-Askari mosque bombing in Samarra in February 2006. Up to 65 per cent had originated from the Baghdad governorate and 61 per cent said they had fled direct threats to their life.
IOM Iraq Displacement Specialist Dana Graber Ladek said: "The prolonged nature of the displacement crisis is increasing the plight of displaced families. Many can no longer afford to pay for even substandard shelter and have little access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation and electricity."
The report said only 22 per cent of internally displaced people had access to regular food distribution which, along with lack of shelter and poor services, was a major cause of chronic health problems.