Civil documentation is vital to one’s enjoyment of fundamental rights. Missing civil documentation impedes one’s ability to access basic services, education, healthcare, and social security benefits and can lead to restricted freedom of movement, increased risk of arrest and detention, exclusion from restitution and/or reconstruction programmes and the inability to participate in the public affairs of the country. Despite this, lack of civil documentation is one of the main protection issues facing internally displaced persons (IDPs) 1 and returnees who may face numerous barriers seeking to obtain and/or renew civil documentation.
In response, UNHCR, in cooperation with government and civil society partners, implements and supports projects and initiatives to enable IDPs and returnees to access civil documentation.
As a core activity, in 2021, UNHCR continues to mobilize legal assistance partners so that IDPs and returnees have access to accurate information and quality legal advice and representation on access to civil documentation. Lack of awareness and the complexity of procedures remain key barriers faced by IDPs in accessing civil documentation, making such assistance critical. Between January and March 2021, UNHCR and partners provided legal assistance and/or counselling to 8,767 individuals resulting in the issuance of 3,927 civil documents. Courts and civil affairs offices generally functioned at full capacity during Q1, although renewed limitations were imposed at the end of March. Wherever possible, partner legal assistance was provided faceto-face while observing COVID-19 related precautionary measures. UNHCR and partners have also extended their outreach aiming to reach those IDPs and returnees affected by the camp closures late last year in Federal Iraq and, where appropriate, ensure referrals for legal assistance for those found to be in need of civil documentation support.