Iraq + 2 more

UNHCR Iraq Protection Update - September 2018

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Highlights

  • 1,540 Iraqi refugees returned from Al Hol and Akda camps in Syria, citing concerns about the situation in the camps as well as a desire to reunite with family in Iraq.

  • Incidents of military and police entering camps carrying guns, and at times conducting tent-to-tent searches continue to be reported in Ninewa Governorate.

  • Incidents of forced relocations and premature returns as a result of eviction threats and confiscation of identity documents continue to be reported in different parts of the centre-south of Iraq.

Security Incidents

Explosions of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other attacks continue to be reported in Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates. In Tuz Khurmatu, Salah al-Din, authorities reported an increase in organized crime affecting the overall protection environment, including kidnapping for ransom. According to local authorities as many as 400 people are missing. Protection monitoring reports indicate a growing fear among Tuz Khurmatu residents and displaced families from the area of a potential relapse in ethnically motivated violence as a result of the withdrawal of the highly respected Emergency Response Division (ERD) forces and their replacement by the Iraqi Army.
Displacement During September, at least 5,302 individuals entered camps in Anbar, Diyala, Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewa and Salah al-Din governorates (over half of these were in Ninewa alone). Many IDPs reported repeated displacement due to military operations, financial difficulties, or unsuccessful attempts to return to their area of origin due to lack of services. Others experienced threats or were denied return over perceived affiliation with extremists or other forms of collective punishment in their area of origin, while some female-headed households also reported moving to camps after incidents of sexual harassment in non-camp settings.
Significant gaps in services, particularly around mental health and psychosocial support as well as medical services, WASH, and shelter support continue to be reported in governorates hosting large concentrations of IDPs (Anbar, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Sulaymaniyah).
In Anbar and Ninewa, IDPs reported incidents of armed military and police personal entering camps, and at times conducting tent-to-tent searches. Protection actors continue to highlight the importance of maintaining the civilian character of camps in their advocacy. These security operations in Ninewa have in some instances been accompanied by other protection incidents including verbal and physical assaults. The screening procedures are geared towards detecting additional families with possible extremist links in addition to those already included in lists maintained by security actors. In addition, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and government authorities have reportedly pressured humanitarian actors to share data related to IDPs.
Sharing detailed IDP data compromises the operational independence of humanitarian actors and can affect relations with IDPs.