Extremism, Contested Territory and Diversity: An Opportunity for Development of Iraq's National Policy on Displacement in 2020?

Research output: Working paper


After decades of brutal dictatorship under Saddam Hussein and years of sectarian civil war, followed by the 2014 ISIS take over, and subsequent loss, of territory in the north and west of the country, Iraq’s institutions and people are still reeling. Though post-war reconstruction is now underway and the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq are gradually decreasing, there remain almost two million displaced people scattered throughout the country. Over half of these IDPs have been displaced for more than three years. The contemporary displacement landscape in Iraq is both problematic and unique. Protracted displacement has become entrenched as a norm, with state response to date emphasising return as the only desirable solution.

Complicating the search for durable solutions is the ongoing conflict between the government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government, over the resource-rich Disputed Territories, which are historically the most ethno-religiously diverse region of Iraq. Additionally, the presence of perceived ISIS-affiliates among the IDP population renders implementation of durable solutions extremely challenging, whilst simultaneously raising unique protection concerns as these perceived affiliates remain extremely vulnerable to abuse and discrimination by state and security forces, as well as civilians. In 2008 the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration published a national policy on displacement, which was never implemented. At the time, on paper, it represented a relatively robust mechanism for protection. It is, however, inadequate to respond to the current displacement context within Iraq, particularly the protection needs of minorities within the Disputed Territories and perceived-ISIS affiliates.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInternal Displacement Research Programme Working Papers (the Refugee Law Initiave Working Papers Series)
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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