DIYALA GOVERNORATE - GENERAL CONTEXT
In September, returns continued to various areas of Diyala, and started to new areas in Muqdadiya district. However the number of those returning is low. Per the DTM, only 203 IDP families (1, 218 individuals) returned in September. The majority of the returns were to mainly to Khalis district bringing the total number of returnee families to 35,125 (210,750 individuals). Only 352 families were registered with the MoMD Diyala branch offices in September, bringing the total registered returnee families to 6,475.
During the reporting period, there were many protection concerns in the lead-up to and in the aftermath of the non-binding independence referendum by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as Diyala has significant parts that are part of the disputed territories. Antireferendum demonstrations were held in Ba’quba City on 14 September, and also demanding the return of “thousands” of Arab families who were displaced from the disputed areas, among other demands.
There was significant increase in forced and premature returns in September, mainly attributed to the tensions surrounding the KRG’s independence referendum. Fears about the escalation of the tensions in the disputed areas, caused significant number of displaced persons to opt to return or led to secondary displacement. At least 52 families, were identified by protection partners as going into secondary displacement after being forcibly returned; 31 families have been displaced to Ba’quba (4 families in 7 Nissan, 9 families in Muskar Saad, 9 families in Tahreer and 9 families in Kanan neighborhoods), 19 families to Muqdadiya district and 2 familiesto Khalis district.
Several areas in Diyala have continued to suffer insecurity and chaos as extremist elements are targeting civilians with booby-trapped vehicles and suicide bombers resulting in casualties and fatalities. Infiltration rates of extremist groups’ militants from Hawija toward Mutaibija, on the borders between Diyala and Salah al-Din, has reportedly increased recently. A curfew was imposed by security authorities and operations were suspended in all public facilities for several days in Muqdadiya City, following operations by security forces in Al-Jihad neighborhood of Muqdadiya City in response to suicide bombers in that neighborhood.
That incident resulted in the killing of nine people while another was wounded.