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Thread: Resettlement Villages as a possible solution for the Iraqi IDP and Refugee Crisis.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Resettlement Villages as a possible solution for the Iraqi IDP and Refugee Crisis.

    Resettlement Villages as a possible solution for the Iraqi IDP and Refugee Crisis.

    (This is my opinion/idea, as far as I know this is not being looked at, I'm putting it out here for the SWC as a discussion topic based off a previous thread cited below)

    It has been widely reported that Iraq is facing a monumental crisis with regard to citizens fleeing or being evicted from their traditional homes due to violence and the threat of violence. It is estimated by the UN that there are close to 2 million Iraqi refugees living in camps legally and illegally in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Further it s reported that there are nearly another million internally displaced persons within Iraq. The refugee crisis has spread as far as the U.S. Southern border, as reported by the El Paso Times, where desperate Iraqi’s have been found attempting to cross over from Mexico. The numbers in question mean that as many as 12% of the Iraqi population is either in refugee or IDP status. These refugees and IDP are generally living in squalid camps where they are at risk from many angles. They are participating in black-market economies, are targeted for criminal exploitation and are subject to potential recruitment by violent extremists. While this presents a terrific problem to the forces currently struggling to stabilize Iraq it also offers an opportunity.

    The opportunity offered is that these at risk populations can be sources of strength. These people fled or were forced to flee by threat of violence and death due to a lack of security. This reason for their flight can be addressed through the establishment of secure resettlement villages. I estimate that the creation of 2,000, one hundred family, self sustaining, resettlement villages in secure areas across Iraq would go far to alleviate the refugee and IDP situation. Further, and here in lies the opportunity, the provision of safe and secure villages for these at risk populations in which to resettle would be a major public relations benefit.

    The goal of this resettlement program would be to bring the refugees back home to Iraq, reduce pressure on the borders, reduce the dangers inherent with large displaced populations, and to improve the living conditions for the refugee and IDP populations. A successful effort would draw pressure away from overpopulated or at risk areas. The goal would be to win the loyalty of the displaced population by providing them with a healthy and secure living area.

    The model village would be organized on a frame of one hundred families in one hundred single family homes, an Iraqi security force detachment, a volunteer civil guard from within the families and an elected town council from which a mayor and police chief would be drawn. The town would be built around a community center with both elementary and primary school facilities, be provided a medical clinic, power generator, water purifier and sanitation facility. These villages could be established quickly and efficiently by the use of prefab containerized housing units.

    Containerized housing has been utilized for U.S. military base housing in expeditionary areas, but has also been utilized by universities and private groups’ world wide. The advantage is that the villages can be constructed, including the power, water, medical, schools and community center in safety outside Iraq. These prefabs can then be loaded on container ships and brought to Kuwait where they can be offloaded and driven via truck to the designated sites. While this would involve a large number of convoys the number would most likely be less than that necessary to construct the same number of villages in a more traditional manner.

    List of Sources:
    IDP and Refugee issues for Iraq

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2528

    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles2006.nsf/FilesByRWDocUnidFilename/0DFE4F16EEA15853C125724200492AAC-Full_Report.pdf/$File/Full_Report.pdf

    http://www.internal-displacement.org...nt&count=10000

    http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/82978.pdf

    http://www3.brookings.edu/fp/project...200706iraq.pdf

    http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/STAT.../4676a71d4.pdf

    http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_6684100

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...101359_pf.html

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNe...n_iraq&sp=true

    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle...fae5b1b17.html

    Historical “Strategic Hamlet” program

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel...gon2/pent4.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Hamlet_Program

    http://www.tamilnation.org/armed_conflict/thompson.htm

    http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamce...sium/2002Paper
    s_files/peoples.htm

    http://www.psywarrior.com/VNHamletPSYOP.html

    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ke...f/iv/12674.htm

    Containerized Housing

    http://www.fabprefab.com/fabfiles/containerbayhome.htm

  2. #2
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Good Problem to consider

    The model village would be organized on a frame of one hundred families in one hundred single family homes, an Iraqi security force detachment, a volunteer civil guard from within the families and an elected town council from which a mayor and police chief would be drawn. The town would be built around a community center with both elementary and primary school facilities, be provided a medical clinic, power generator, water purifier and sanitation facility. These villages could be established quickly and efficiently by the use of prefab containerized housing units.

    Containerized housing has been utilized for U.S. military base housing in expeditionary areas, but has also been utilized by universities and private groups’ world wide. The advantage is that the villages can be constructed, including the power, water, medical, schools and community center in safety outside Iraq. These prefabs can then be loaded on container ships and brought to Kuwait where they can be offloaded and driven via truck to the designated sites. While this would involve a large number of convoys the number would most likely be less than that necessary to construct the same number of villages in a more traditional manner.
    Troufion,
    I'm not sure how much thought has been been directed toward resettlement of IDPs - I do know its been pointed out as a source of instability in the region as neighboring states, and even within the more stables regions within Iraq, as those people are absorbed in some capacity.

    We (the very big macro "we") should be considering - when the best time for this to happen might be, how the best way(s) to do this might be, how this might impact other lines of operation, and who should be driving the train on this?

    I think we also have to understand that no matter where these DPs ultimately go back to there are cultural factors and cultural patterns that will influence the process and have long term consequences - many of these people that have fled will be caught up in a kind of time warp since they have become separated from their home environment.

    I follow your logic of the "containerized modular village", but I'd offer that this might be a costly solution that can not be sustained in the cultural and physical environment at hand. A modified idea might be to pursue improving the camps and working within them to resolve issues surrounding repatriation - such as reuniting kinsmen, getting a better sense of demographics and cultural lines, providing some education that allows faster integration once repatriated, etc. At the same time working within the Iraqi government to plan the reintroduction from the associated logistical challenges to the social implications. A course of action like this might forecast infrastructure needs and even generate economic opportunities by considering where to establish new factories, build new homes, improve and expand utilities, consider emergency services, etc.

    Whatever the solution may be, it must involve the local, provincial and national government in order to account for the role of government and allocation of resources. If the echelons of government do not have an accurate reflection of who they are government, they will have a hard time executing the responsibilities of government.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-11-2007 at 11:19 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Troufion, man I just love this, this is some strategic mofooking stuff you got. Being a member of the old Fokker's battalion I can tell you that something like this was done in Germany after WW2. A little different but they put up Quonset huts with coal burning stoves and some of the first chemical toilets ever made. They dropped them off in some of the bombed out cities and people lived in them while they rebuilt the actual city with funds from the Marshall plan.


    This is also similar to the Enclave Strategy that General Gavin and others were pushing for during the Senator Fullbright hearings on Vietnam in 1966. It was different from the Strategic Hamlet program in the since that they were going to build fortified enclaves from US1 to the coast of Vietnam which is where most of the population was.


    I also think that any program like this must be tied to economic viability otherwise it will be a long term financial drain which could end up causing another relocation to be near their jobs. One option maybe to build them along the Oil pipeline infrastructure since pretty much all jobs will be tied to Oil production some way. It would also be a good way to protect the infrastructure. Protect your on rice bowl so to speak. More later.

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    Having worked fairly extensively on refugee issues in the Middle East, let me let out a couple of notes of warning.

    1) US involvement in large-scale repatriation and resettlement programs would immediately and inevitably invite accusations of American complicity in ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering. This is especially true given that the majority of refugees (and IDPs) have fled mixed areas, and would likely be resettled in "own group" areas. This would need to be addressed with enormous care.

    2) There would be a substantial social stigma associated with containerized housing. IDPs might accept it as a location of first refuge, but I think you would run into problems resettling or repatriating currently-housed refugees and IDPs (many of them from middle class backgrounds) into it. Moreover, it is a method that would not be able to make use of local labour and housing construction skills. Cinder/breeze block construction is familiar, cheaper, easier to maintain long-term, uses local labour, works well in hot climates, and is more widely accepted. (We've looked at both prefab and wooded temporary refugee rehousing in north Lebanon in connection with the Nahr al-Barid crisis, and neither proved suitable or acceptable to refugees themselves.)

    3) Don't assume the local population would welcome this, especially in a context of existing high local unemployment. Refugee quick impact projects (QIPs) can provide some immediate employment, but long term you need a viable local economy.

    4) These things are always far, far more expensive, and complicated, than first estimates.

    Overall, I'm not sure that the US or the Iraqi government, would gain any popularity from this. (For a domestic parallel, think how popular FEMA became after Katrina!)

    That having been said, you're absolutely right to flag the magnitude of the refugee/IDP crisis, and the need to devote creative thinking (and greater resources) to addressing it, both for political and humanitarian purposes. It often gets forgotten.

    Great links too!

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I am posting this link called subtopia:the military urbanization of cities. There is a ton of information about this topic at this site. I found this site on the Global Guerrillas website (aka John Robb)



    http://subtopia.blogspot.com/

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    - they can use Indian reservations for a model - I highly recommend a tour of Pine Ridge and Rosebud for starters.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the comments so far and am taking notes, keep them coming. What I see as the main issues are:

    questions/issues:
    1) cost effectiveness, can it be done cheaper and faster through local material
    2) Logisitic support (transport and construct) sanity check-does it make sense?
    3) Cultural sensitivity to: type of housing, location and ethnic composition (is it acceptable to the target population, even for temp housing)

    benefits:
    1) prefab power, water, sanitation, laundry facilities; schools, medical clinics and community center are all players, provifing a plug an play utility, far easier to slap a self contained unit onto the ground and have the locals run the piping and wiring than to cobble together the pieces ad hoc. You still utilize locals for the laying of foundations, the internal traffic grid, fencing and wiring, piping.
    2) prefabs can be wired for sound--they can have many modern conveniences prebuilt into them, you can make selling this on the cultural side easier by defeating the skepticsim and indifference by offering a better life. You can also have prefab stores, maintenance facilites and restaurants for entrpeneurs. These could be organized as needed by the establishing agencies, possibly a PRT. There by providing job opportunites other than simple manual labor.
    3) The intent is to draw people away from the borders and from the larger ciities (city) to create smaller more defensible/managable enclaves and to provide them a better standard of living-access to jobs/job skill training.

    Notes:
    1) If the resettlement village(s) were to be colocated or grouped near a PRT then the interaction with the government for support would be that much greater.
    2) The current trend is to flow the population towards large urban areas were the individuals hope to find jobs and support from the government. What generallyt happens is the infrastructure becomes quickly overwhelmd and fails, creating large unsafe, unsanitary slums. In Iraq the issue is somewhat different as people are fleeing violence, but he result is the same they head to safe havens or percieved safe havens which tend to be ramshackle refugee camps, and or foriegn cities. BY rapidly building safe and secure resttlement villages within the affected state you can reverse the trend and prove the governments desire to help teh people at the same time.

    Cost: the estimate is that Syria alone will spend over 1 BILLION dollars this next year supporting the Iraq refugees. This is just one state, would it not be better to spend the money and bring the refugees back into Iraq? The needs of the refugees are simple-safety, security and a place to live and work. Far better to build this capacity within Iraq than in a camp in Jordan. I look at the Palestinian camps as a motivator to not allow these camps to exist long term.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Perhaps Indian reservations are not the best example?

    Meanwhile, on Pine Ridge, three and four families live in single-family houses, eight to nine out of 10 people are out of work, and more than half the population, helpless against disconnect notices, has no phone in any given month.

    ...

    Life expectancy on the reservation is 47 to 56 years, the nation's lowest. Infant mortality is twice the rate of the rest of the country. Diabetes afflicts about half the population, and people here talk about their blood sugar levels the way other Americans mention their cholesterol counts.

    Alcoholism is rampant -- some figures place it at 80 percent of the population -- yet on a reservation about the size of Connecticut, there is no alcohol treatment center. The roadside crosses are too often the result of alcohol-fueled car accidents, which are nearly three times as common here as in the general population ...
    Shannon County, SD quickfacts.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hello Troufion !

    Some great details and ideas, Thanks.
    I hate to be the devil's advocate, but I've seen too many UN projects mixing just two tribes (a tad under 1 million folks) together only to meet with an expensive disaster.

    Tom and I, based on 'intelligent information', began to wonder if the displaced were actually going anywhere. Someone came up with the idea to move the quarters, food and water several hundred clicks 'this way' and surely the displaced would move 'there'.

    It didn't work. If it did, we never found those folks.

    I think Rob and Rex have hit on some significant issues that would need serious attention.

    At 5 grand a pop, I think the American public will be a tad PO'd at the thought.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Troufion, this goes to measures of Strategic MOE (Measures of Effect) one of the most telling measures of security is that people are voting with their FEET. If they have the means to leave they do. If you can pull them back that is a Strategic MOE that you are gaining the hearts and minds of the populace. They are starting to trust their government, which is why the refugees are a problem that can be turned into an opportunity as you have suggested. The refugees are definitely your target market.

    Iraq is a single product country...Oil. In that respect every job either directly or indirectly will be tied to this, so to reiterate my point that the villages must be tied to some kind of an economic Center of Gravity for their long term viability. If this is done the kind of housing that they start with isn't going to matter that much because they will have the money to change it later on as they see fit. So your idea of safe container cities would be an easier sell because it is just a safe,clean,secure start point.
    Last edited by slapout9; 09-12-2007 at 03:23 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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    Thanks for the update, Tequila. It has been a few years since I've been on the Rez up there. I had presumed the surge of cash and services that was supposed to go to reservations had dramatically altered things, maybe even bringing unemployment down to the 30% levels of pre-WW1 and getting a fire truck or two, a few ambulances, maybe even a doctor or two - things like that. That assessment you provided could probably be applied to resettlement villages a few years down the line. In lieu of an estimated 80% alcoholism rate mentioned in your quote, substitute the word insurgency and there you have it, a Rez without American Indians, IMO.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Iraqi refugees to the US or get them to go back?

    I address this situation as it as been brought up in all the Petreaus-Crocker Senate and House testamonies, the President mentioned it, and becuase the crisis is also an opportunity for the US. Below is a story from NPR that hits the crisis pretty well and fairly current. 1.5-2 million refugees, and several thousand coming to the States. Wouldn't it be better to build safe and secure housing for them in Iraq? The cost tends to be a question but as I've found in the research the Syrians and Jordanians who have the bulk of the refugees are willing to pay and looking for help. If we the US could get the Saudis and Kuwaitis to kick in cash, the US systems of PRT's, Contractors and Military forces could resttle these folks quickly and effectively. -T

    "Syria and Jordan are appealing for help in dealing with a refugee crisis from Iraq, where more than 2 million people have left the country.

    The United States has pledged to bring in about 7,000 Iraqi refugees this year, but has yet to come even close to that number. Members of Congress are getting frustrated with the slow pace of admissions — particularly for Iraqis targeted because of their association with the Americans."

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=12334759

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Resettlement Villages not Reservations

    I dont necessarily see the connection, though I do see the need to NOT do the same things that followed in reservations. The resettlement should be voluntary. This is why I push prefab housing, it could be modern , clean, the village would have its own POWER grid-meaning AC, Lights, and running CLEAN water. Prefab laundry facilites, a community center with an AUDIO VISUAL suite and satelite tv capacity, cellular phone repeater, etc.

    I know you say no way to costly. I once again offer Syria as the test. Syria estimates 1 Billion to pay for one year of current refugee support. 1 Billion buys a lot of prefab buildings and amenites. A village of 100 homes a community center, police station/barracks, clinic, laundry, with power and water treatment laid out on concrete slabs, with a paved or gravel road net, and perhaps a protective chain link fence (approximatley 130-150 buildings) with delivery and installation would cost in the realm of (this is a swag for argument sake). 20 Million US. The BILLION dollars from Syria would go a long way to building these Villages.

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