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The Politics and Challenges of Iraq’s Displaced Communities


Iraq has experienced several waves of internal displacement due to conflict and sectarian violence, often involving the main ethno-religious groups across the country. The most recent displacement crisis in Iraq occurred during and after the 2014-2017 conflict with ISIS, which resulted in the displacement of around 6 million people. As of April 2021, roughly 1.2 million people remain internally displaced, and nearly 5 million have returned to the country with limited resources to re-establish their lives.

Before and after the conflict, authorities enacted a series of measures to tackle the challenges created by internal displacement. The current humanitarian context in Iraq is set within a fragile, post-conflict environment, characterized by multiple competing crises, including the pandemic, corruption, economic hardships, and security threats. In this context, in October 2020, PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s Government resumed the closure of IDP camps, raising concerns about the safety and wellbeing of displaced communities from slowed reconstruction plans and security threats.

Multiple reports by NGOs highlighted several issues concerning human rights of both IDPs who left the camps and those who remain within them. In 2021, 4.1 million IDPs and returnees continue to have humanitarian needs related to their physical and mental well-being, living standards and coping capacities. According to OCHA, the proportion of out-of-camp IDPs in acute need increased from 36% to 45% year-on-year, while the proportion of returnees with acute needs increased from 28% to 38%. The main issues reported by involved organizations include gender-based violence, child labor, lack of education, poverty, and barriers to civil documentation among in-camp and out-of-camp IDPs in the country.

What are the challenges facing IDP communities? How did post-ISIS Iraqi politics affect the IDPs case? How does the IDP issue implicate a long-standing reconciliation in Iraq? How is it possible to impact the political reform in the country? Why has the Iraqi state failed to end this crisis? What are the proposed solutions before and after December elections?

Featured Speakers: Dr. Rochelle Davis, Rasha Al Aqeedi, Salma Al-Shami and moderated by Anas Alqaed.

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