Mosul Weekly Protection Update (6 - 12 May 2017)

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 12 May 2017


During the reporing period, displacement out of west Mosul ranged at its highest from 5,000 individuals to 17,000 per day. Protecion monitors idenified increasing medical needs while coninuing to provide much needed protecion support and advocacy for vulnerable families along displacement routes and in areas of return.

Displacement trends

Displacement out of west Mosul coninued at a rate of about 5,000 people per day with the excepion of 11 and 12 May when an average of 16,000 people transited through Hammam Al-Alil, mainly from Salai al Zarai. Earlier displacements were from Tel Afar, Al-Haramat, Al-Meshirfa, Hawi Al-Kanisa, Zanjili, Al-Hadar, 17 Tanouz, Hey Al-Zerahi, and Hey Al-Tank. Families reported dire humanitarian condiions with reports of starvaion and the lack of water compounded by indiscriminate shelling, sniper atacks and land mines. UNHCR and its partners observed many injuries among the new arrivals with health actors overwhelmed by the demand.

The closure of Munira (Nimrud) bridge significantly affected the movement of IDPs from Hammam Al-Alil to east Mosul or to camps east of Mosul. Those arriving at the newly opened UNHCR Hasansham U2 camp, report that they let west Mosul areas of Al-Haramat, Meshirfa, Tanak and Yarmouk 2-3 weeks ago through Hammam Al-Alil before heading to east Mosul where they stayed with relaives or in rented houses unil they ran out of money for rent and food. Families then travelled to Hamadaniya, 10 km east of Mosul, via taxis and were then transported by MOMD buses to Hasansham camp, a further 10 km to the east. Only 94 individuals arrived at Nargizlia camp, with IDPs reporing restricted access through Nawaran and Nartalah checkpoints. UNHCR coninues to idenify and respond to protecion concerns, provide psychological first aid, and facilitate family reunificaion.

Returns to both east and west Mosul from Hasansham/Khazer and Chamakor camps coninue. More than 2,000 individuals departed from these IDP camps to Al-Rashidiya, Qawsiat, Qahira, Karama quarters in east Mosul and to west Mosul areas of Tel-Al-Rumman, Tanak and Badush. Authoriies report that, to date, 109,326 individuals have returned to east Mosul while 32,390 have returned to west Mosul.

Arbitrary detention and arrests

Protecion actors have observed high levels of arbitrary arrests and detenion by both security forces and by state-supported miliia. In Hasansham/Khazer and Chamakor camps 21 cases of detenion were reported this week.

On 6 May a number of women from Hatra district, in south Ninewa Governorate reported that several of their male relieves were detained by government-affiliated militia at Ongarbyn camp near Badoush mustering point. A day later, 11 of the men were released and joined their families in Hammam Al-Alil while an unknown number of those detained remain unaccounted for. UNHCR and protection partners are deeply concerned at the reports of arbitrary detentions, disappearances and abuses and continue to advocate against the involvement of militia in security screening and in detention.

In a separate incident, authoriies at Scorpion Juncion detained 10 women and a minor girl, all of which were reportedly wives or widows of extremist group members. The women were eventually released and transferred to Hammam Al-Alil following persistent advocacy.

In Nargizlia, authorities have approved family visits to detainees twice a week while UNHCR protection teams have been advocating for similar family visits for those detained in Erbil facilities. UNHCR protection partners received several reports of sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment by security officials at Hammam Al-Alil screening site and reception centre. Interventions were promptlymade with senior military officials who took remedial acion by removing one of the idenified officials and imposed measures restricing officials’ access to the Recepion Centre rub halls.

Return movements

As noted earlier, returns to Mosul and surrounding retaken areas are ongoing. IDPs deparing camps cite several push and pull factors, including inadequate services in many camps, the summer heat, presence of snakes and insects, the perceived improved security situaion in some return areas, protecion of personal property from looing, and reunificaion with family members who have returned and have informed them about the condiions in their areas of origin. Post-arrival interviews with families who have returned to some areas of east Mosul indicate that limited services have been restored, including water, as well as some schools and primary health services. Returnees report that most families rely on generators for electricity. Families who have arrived to west Mosul report that public services such as water and electricity have not yet been restored. While water and food can be bought from the few shops that have opened, many families lack income. In addiion, in some areas, the proximity of shelling remains a constant cause of fear. Despite these condiions, and unless the situaion drasically deteriorates, returnee families have indicated their intenion to remain in west Mosul due to limited alternaive opions.

Forced returns

While a significant number of IDPS have voluntarily returned to Mosul over the past months, this week witnessed an increase in reports of forced returns. On 9 May, military trucks were used to transport 300 families from Hammam Al Alil camp 1 to their areas of origin in west Mosul (Wadi Hajjar, Tel Romana, Mosul Al-Jadida, Risala, Mansour, Al Amal, Nabulus, and Shuhada). Against this background, a number of these families had approached UNHCR partners to express their inability to return, raising concerns about their safety and destruction of their houses. Upon UNHCR’s intervention with the camp management, the authorities reiterated the voluntary nature of these returns and that those wishing to stay could do so. Despite these assurances, on 10 May, approximately 100 families were transported to west Mosul. Follow-up phone calls made by UNHCR protection partners revealed that while some 70 families returned voluntarily, others claim to have been coerced to return, at least in three cases, despite seeking to halt the return by approaching the camp management. They explained that they were given an hour to pack and leave. According to community leaders, of the 400 families reportedly forced to leave, some 200 later returned to the camp after receiving information that they had the option to do so. Advocacy efforts halted further forced returns and UNHCR protection teams continue to closely monitor the situation.

Forced evictions In Kirkuk, Asayesh (security officials) continue to issue eviction notices and to pressure out-of-camp IDPs to move into IDP camps. This week, reportedly six (6) IDP families living in Hay Al-Nidaa, Panja Ali and Imam Qasim were given notice to return to Salah al-Din and Diyala Governorates by the end of May. Since the start of the year, more than 100 families received such notices and were told to either relocate into existing IDP camps, where they face severe movement restrictions, or to return to their areas of origin. IDPs expressed concern over insecurity, lack of livelihoods and education in return areas. For those returning prematurely or who cannot return as their areas remain under ISIS control (e.g. Hawiga), secondary displacement is likely. Advocacy with the Kirkuk authorities to halt evictions and ensure the voluntariness and safety of all returns is ongoing.