Before the start of 2014, Iraq already had one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world, at up to an estimated 1.3 million. Around half of these had been displaced by sectarian violence since 2006. In addition, Iraq is hosting around 215,000 Syrian refugees, and many more unregistered, over 95% of these in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
The recent escalation of conflict in Northern and Central Iraq since June 2014, on top of the Anbar crisis earlier this year, has led to the further displacement of an estimated 1.2 million people since January 2014. Recent displacement has closely followed a pattern of sectarian lines. As the conflict has expanded, a number of ethnic and/or religious minority groups have been displaced, many undergoing multiple displacements since June.
To help inform the humanitarian response to the crisis, this series of briefing notes outlines a number of key displacement patterns observed in Iraq since June 2014. The briefings are based on primary data collected by REACH enumerators in Northern and Central Iraq between 10-18 August 2014. Data collected includes 225 key informant interviews, 16 focus group discussions, and 172 household-level surveys, triangulated with available secondary data.
Main Displacement Waves since June 2014
1st wave of displacement: June 2014
The takeover of the city of Mosul on 6 June by Armed Opposition Groups (AOGs), and intense fighting in Tal Afar on 16 June displaced an estimated total of more than 500,000 people to areas controlled by Kurdish forces in Dohuk and Erbil Governorates, as well as to Sinjar and the Ninewa Plains. Simultaneous conflict in Northern Diyala District triggered displacement to the cities of Kanaquin and Kalar, close to the border with Iran.
2nd wave of displacement: 3rd-18th August 2014
The further advance of AOGs into the Ninewa Plains and Sinjar resulted in the displacement of over 400,000 people, mainly from ethno-religious minority groups, to perceived safer areas of the KRI and Shia-majority governorates in Southern Iraq. The capture of Jalawla by AOGs on 10 August also intensified displacement in Northern Diyala to Kalar, Kanaquin and surrounding areas.