21 September 2020
Since March, Iraq has imposed movement restrictions and closed border points to control the spread of the virus. The border closures have been a major obstacle for refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Syria. However, UNHCR reports that since July the Peshkhabour Border Crossing Point has been open intermittently—albeit only to accept the readmission of Syrians already registered in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KR-I). More recently, with cases rising rapidly in the country, the government announced the closure of the border with Iran—believed to be in order to prevent Iranian pilgrims from entering the country to mark Arbaeen in Najaf and Karbala.
Iraq’s 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) also represent an extremely vulnerable group in the country. Many IDPs live in precarious and overcrowded shelters that lack adequate hygiene facilities. NGOs and international organisations have provided sanitation kits and health counselling.
According to UNHCR, as of 27 August 2020 a total of 68 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed amongst the refugee and IDP community—including in camps in Anbar, Dohuk, Erbil, and Ninewa Governorates. In some camps, management have initiated lockdowns in-line with Camp Coordination and Camp Management Covid-19 preparedness and response plans.
On 2 September, for the first time since border closures in March, a “voluntary” repatriation flight from Europe returned some 50 Iraqis. The flight was provided by Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium, together with the IOM, and was supported by the EU and financed by Frontex.
- S.Z. Mehdi, “Covid-19: Iran-Iraq Borders Closed to Arbaeen Pilgrims,” 19 September 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/latest-on-coronavirus-outbreak/covid-19-iran-iraq-borders-closed-to-arbaeen-pilgrims/1979023
- InfoMigrants, “First European Voluntary Return Flight to Iraq Since Start of Pandemic,” 4 September 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27057/first-european-voluntary-return-flight-to-iraq-since-start-of-pandemic
- UNHCR, “Iraq: UNHCR Covid-19 Update,” 30 August 2020, https://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Iraq%20COVID-19%20Update%20-%2030-08-20.pdf
IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
§26. ...the Committee notes with concern that:
(a) Victims of trafficking and of prostitution are reportedly being mistreated or abused during interrogation, and incarcerated, fined, convicted, deported or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts such as prostitution and immigration violations;
(b) There are cases of girls sold into prostitution being kept in prison to “protect” them from reprisals for bringing shame on their family/community;
(c) Mechanisms have not been put in place for the identification of child victims of offences under the Optional Protocol, and officials have not been trained or provided with any guidance to identify these child victims or children at particular risk, such as undocumented foreign migrant children or children arrested on prostitution charges.
§27. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Take prompt measures to ensure that children’s testimonies are regarded as full proof, and that children are allowed to file a complaint on their own behalf;
(b) Immediately remove from prison all women and girls detained allegedly for their protection and provide them with all the support necessary;
(c) Establish an effective system of reporting, with a child-sensitive inquiry and judicial procedure that fully protects children’s privacy and dignity;
(d) Establish effective mechanisms to identify, detect and monitor children in vulnerable situations who are at risk of becoming victims of offences under the Optional Protocol, and provide these mechanisms with the necessary human, financial and technical resources, as well as training, for them to identify children who are victims or at risk of offences under the Protocol;
(e) Ensure that every child who has fallen victim to any of the crimes under the Optional Protocol is under no circumstances treated as a criminal, but always as a victim, and is provided with all the necessary protection, support and access to reintegration and recovery services;
(f) Ensure that victims of trafficking are protected from any form of mistreatment and abuse when in contact with law enforcement officials, and have access to reporting channels.2015