Iraqis believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State continue to face collective punishment. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) was the latest to note that approximately 400,000 people do not have their government documents which means they cannot receive services, can’t freely move about the country, and suffer on going discrimination.
The NRC estimated that 80,000 households in postwar areas are missing their government documents. That includes 45,000 children in displaced camps that do not have birth certificates. Most are under 5 years old and were born under Islamic State control. Adults are also missing their IDs and other papers for a number of reasons. Some were confiscated by the militants, others were lost while fleeing, while still more had their papers taken by the Iraqi forces and they were never returned. IDs are required to receive services like health care and an education, and to get through checkpoints which dot northern and western Iraq. Worse, people who lack their documents are often suspects of being IS members, and risk being arrested.
Various aid groups are attempting to help Iraqis get their papers but the Iraqi bureaucracy is obtuse and dysfunctional. Getting things like a birth certificate are very difficult. There are a lack of government agencies in former war areas. Corruption is another issue. Asking for bribes for papers is routine. Women with male relatives on wanted lists are often denied papers. Lawyers and local officials are also afraid to help people because if they are on a want list giving assistance to them could lead to being arrested as well. That leaves these families in a no win situation. Without papers they can’t move around and can’t get basic needs. They are simply outcasts, which will last into the next generation with their children as well. Baghdad is doing nothing about this because it has no reconciliation policy leaving these people to their own devices.
Norwegian Refugee Council, “Barriers From Birth, Undocumented children in Iraq sentenced to a life on the margins,” 4/30/19