A report published by seven NGOs has denounced that five years after the conflict in Iraq, up to one million displaced Iraqis don't have essential identity papers.
According to a new report published on September 15 by seven humanitarian groups, up to one million displacement-affected Iraqis don't have key civil documents. The lack of such documents hinders their access to public services and increases the risk of poverty and exclusion.
The document Life in the Margins -- published by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), among others -- noted that nearly five years after the declaration of the war's end, access to civil documentation remains strongly limited for displaced families in Iraq.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) who have no access to government offices, families allegedly affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) and families headed by a woman, in particular, face multiple challenges in requesting civil documentation.
Risk of exclusion from services
The organizations stressed that, though progress has been made since 2019 in the release of civil documentation since the number of paperless people has decreased, those still without crucial forms of identification are at constant risk of exclusion from key public services, including access to healthcare and education.
Out of the million internally displaced people and returnees lacking civil documentation in 2022, about half did not possess two fundamental documents and a quarter did not have at least three.
Missing documents included those proving residence, marriage, birth, death and the new Iraqi unified identity card, which is fundamental to get monthly food rations.
Bureaucratic and administrative barriers, shortcomings in the Civil Affairs Directorates (CAD) in releasing documentation and requirements for security clearance over alleged affiliations to the Islamic State are all factors contributing to a complex network of obstacles reported by agencies in preventing vulnerable people from obtaining the documents they need.
A third of the families interviewed in informal sites had members without legal identity papers.
In the informal sites of Bzebez and Kilo 7 in Anbar and in those around Mosul, more than three-fourths of unregistered students interviewed by NRC in 2022 said they were not attending school mainly because they did not have the required documents.
Appeal to provide essential documents
"These households have been relegated to the margins of society without key pieces of civil documentation, which compounds and reinforces other vulnerabilities," said James Munn, country director for NRC in Iraq. "Without your identity papers you can't access services, you can't freely move through checkpoints, and you can't move beyond five years of suffering since the declared end of the conflict."
The humanitarian groups are asking the Iraqi government, the governments of donor countries and leaders of the humanitarian response to commit to helping these people finally obtain the fundamental documents they have a right to possess.