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Opportunity for safe return provided by retaking of ISIS territory being lost amidst ongoing insecurity – new report on Iraq’s internally displaced

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In the context of limited governance and continued insecurity, the opportunity for a safe return for Iraq’s Internally Displaced People (IDPs) afforded by the retaking of ISIS’ territory is being lost, say Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, in a new report.

‘Although the Iraqi government and the international community have trumpeted their successes in pushing back ISIS from territory in Anbar, Diyala and Salahaddin, relatively few displaced communities have been able to return,’ says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. ‘The lack of security and basic services in the so-called liberated areas is often compounded by hostility from local tribes and pro-government militias, particularly towards Sunni returnees. Without a strategy to support the return of displaced communities, the cycle of violence is in danger of starting again.’

With the UN lacking funding and the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government under both military and economic strain, the protection of human rights and provision of humanitarian assistance have been gravely compromised, says the report, which is based on extensive interviews with IDPs carried out in Baghdad, central and northern Iraq over the last six months.

Iraq’s Displacement Crisis: security and protection explores IDP returns to their areas of origin. Due to poor living conditions in areas of displacement, many families are seeking to return even though the situation in their homeland may not have improved. Liberated areas are in need of better security, reconstruction of basic infrastructure and the resumption of public services, say the international rights organisations.

The report also says that intimidation and harassment of IDPs based on their origins are common and increasing in areas of displacement. Communities who find themselves in areas where they are a religious, ethnic or linguistic minority live in fear of physical assault and discrimination.

Since the present displacement crisis began in January 2014 with the advance ISIS, the humanitarian emergency in Iraq has become more severe. The number of IDPs in Iraq now stands at 3.2 million, some of whom have been displaced several times over the last decade. More than 8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

The report provides an up-to-date overview of the situation of IDPs in Iraq since the ISIS onslaught and resulting conflict. It includes information not only on forced displacement committed by ISIS, but also that perpetrated by other armed groups, including government forces.

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International is a non-governmental organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide

For further information, an embargoed copy of the report or to arrange interviews with Mark Lattimer (London, UK – English) or the author of the report (Iraq – English, Arabic) contact:

Emma Eastwood, Senior Media Officer, Minority Rights Group International (London)

E: emma.eastwood@mrgmail.org
T: +44 2074224205
M: +44 7989699984

@MinorityRights

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