Sinjar occupies a strategic position in the west of Ninewa governorate, located 50 kilometers (km) east of the border with Syria, 120 km west of Mosul and around 120 km south-west of Dahuk governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Sinjar mountain, a 100-km long ridge located directly north of Sinjar town, divides the area into northern and southern sectors. The area’s inhabitants are mostly Yazidi and Muslim. Prior to 2014, the population of Sinjar district was reported to be 237,073 indivduals.
In November 2015 the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) established control of the area, forcing out the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that had held Sinjar since August 2014. Over two years later, in October 2017, governance control changed again when Iraqi Security Force (ISF) took over. Since the area was retaken from ISIL in November 2015, an estimated 6,000 families had returned to Sinjar town at the end of February 2018. The vast majority of returnees are reported to be Yazidis. The area north of the mountain is mostly accessible to humanitarian actors. This part of the district suffered less damage during the recent crisis, making it more viable for returns.
The area south of the mountain around Sinjar town is more heavily damaged and less accessible. As a result, there is less information on this part of Sinjar publicly available. In May 2018 REACH, in collaboration with the Returns Working Group, launched a Rapid Overview of Areas of Return (ROAR) assessment in Sinjar town and surrounding areas to inform recovery. The ROAR assessment looks at the motivations behind return, along with the current situation related to protection issues, livelihoods and the provision of services to identify priority areas of return based on needs