Rapid Overview of Areas of Return (ROAR) Villages south of Baquba city, Diyala Governorate, Iraq - November 2018
Baquba district is located in the southwest of Diyala governorate. The capital of the district, and of the governorate, is Baquba city, which is situated approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. The assessed area covers a cluster of villages situated between 45 and 25 kilometres south of Baquba city (see Map 1). There are no reliable estimates of the population of Baquba city or Baquba district. In 2007, estimates of the population of the district ranged from 135,291 to 627,000 individuals.
There is little information available about the ethnic composition of Baquba district specifically but Diyala governorate is said to be home to a mix of Sunni Arabs and Turkmen (60%), Shia Arabs and Turkmen (25%), and Kurds (15%), with Baquba city reportedly being home to a majority of Sunni Arabs.
In June 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) entered Baquba district and while it carried out some attacks on Baquba city, it never established control over it.
The Government of Iraq (GoI) declared to have re-established control over Diyala governorate in January 2015.
However, at least until the end of 2015, multiple ISIL attacks took place in the country side south of Baquba city.
The current assessment has focused on the rural area south of Baquba city between the cities of Buhriz, Khan Bani Saad, and Kanan, and centred around the village of Abu Khamis (see Map 1).6 The area is closely connected the Buhriz, just south of Baquba city, as residents reportedly travel there to access services, such as healthcare and education. One key informant (KI) estimated that there are at least 18 villages, most of which are home to one extended family. Agriculture was said to be the main source of income for these families.
This location was chosen because a significant number of individuals were said to have displaced from the assessed area in 2015 due to the presence of ISIL.
As of October 2018, the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) had not recorded any returnees in Baquba district and estimated that about 1,000 families from Baquba district remain displaced. However, a KI estimated that 17,000 individuals had displaced from the assessed area and 7,000 individuals had returned at the time of data collection.
Given the limited information available regarding the displacement trends inside and out of Baquba district, and the reasons IDPs remain displaced, REACH – in partnership with the Returns Working Group (RWG) – launched a Rapid Overview of Areas of Return (ROAR) assessment at the end of October 2018, which sought to inform the recovery process in order to support durable and safe returns. The ROAR assessment looks at the motivations behind return, along with the current context related to protection issues, livelihoods, and the provision of basic services in areas of Iraq that are experiencing returns.