Although Iraq’s revenue is rapidly increasing, official consideration of humanitarian issues is taking a back seat, external funding for development is diminishing, and corruption appears to be thriving amidst undemocratic practices. These issues are most clearly manifested in the nation’s 2013 budget proposal, the largest budget in the country’s history. Out of the colossal 138 trillion Iraqi Dinars (USD 118.6 billion), most notable are the allocations to oil production in the form of foreign and domestic projects, the security and defense sectors, and the Prime Minister’s office. To be sure, the primary reason for the exceptionally large budget is oil revenue and production, as Iraq boasts the fourth largest oil reserves in the world[1] and may quickly become the world’s…
06 Nov 2012
Trafficking in persons makes the headlines of newspapers again in the region. This time, it is the trafficking in Syrian girls and widows under the pretext of marriage and protection. This brings back to memory the plights of the Iraq war, as some of the female refugees were subjected to conditions of trafficking in Iraq’s neighboring countries and some of the Gulf States. Trafficking in persons is a phenomenon that accompanies wars and unrest. One international NGO has recently worked closely with the Iraqi government and local NGOs in this field. Heartland Alliance says “whenever people are forced to become refugees, they are vulnerable to being exploited. Trafficking exists in Iraq right now, and it might occur in the Syrian…
02 Oct 2012

Baghdad, the KRG, and Syrian Refugees

Tuesday, 02 October 2012
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Syrian refugees have been entering Iraq at inconsistent rates. While Kurdistan has maintained a generally open policy toward refugees, most of whom have been Syrian Kurds, Baghdad has remained fickle regarding its stance toward evacuees. After opening the border for a brief stint between July and August, Baghdad closed its al-Qaem border on August 16th, only to reopen it again on September 18th with some improved humanitarian conditions, yet generally insufficient provisions, such as a lack of hygienic supplies, low quality and quantity food, as well as inadequate medical assistance. Various reasons were given for closing the border concerning both camp capacity and domestic security. In Kurdistan, some younger male refugees have been welcomed and provided with military training. On…
04 Sep 2012

Syrian Refugees in Iraq – Latest Updates

Tuesday, 04 September 2012
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Al-Qaem border crossing is still closed. A pregnant Syrian woman died on Monday September 3rd, at the Syrian side of Al-Qaem border crossing point. A day earlier 3 young boys, suffering injuries also died. The children arrived at the border three days previously, already suffering injuries. The stranded Syrians, including the pregnant woman who needed assistance as she was about to give birth, received no assistance from the Iraqi side, while the border remains closed, reported al-Anbar NGOs Council. In a separate incident, one child died on September 2nd, also on the Syrian side where the refugees are still stranded. Apparently the child suffered an asthma case during a sand storm. Al-Qaem border crossing has been closed since 16 August…
The following analysis is part of a series of recent published reviews of individual draft laws on civil liberties in Iraq undertaken by NCCI (links below[i]). A comprehensive long-form report on the interlinking security and legal mechanisms of deteriorating civil liberties in Iraq, with a focus on Freedom of Expression, will be released in the coming month. A Critical Moment In the past two years, five new pieces of problematic legislation have been proposed that regard civil liberties, and most notably restrict freedom of expression. These laws will define some of the most fundamental frameworks protecting civil liberties in Iraq.[ii] Yet they reference and entrench weaknesses of pre-existent illiberal legislation dating from the Ba’athist administration (such as the Penal Code…
A Critical Moment in Defining the Legal Framework of Civil Liberties in Iraq: In the past two years, new drafts of five key pieces of legislation have been proposed that will define some of the most fundamental frameworks protecting civil liberties in Iraq. Problematically, each of these laws contains a substantial number of clauses that are inconsistent with Iraq’s Constitution and obligations under international agreements to which it is signatory. As a result the capacity of these laws to protect the freedoms they are designed to uphold is weakened. The Law for the Protection of Journalists, while containing some positive improvements in the field of journalists’ rights, was passed with controversy regarding many other articles, in August 2011. The Commission…
05 Jun 2012

Iraq - From Emergency to Development

Tuesday, 05 June 2012
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Is Iraq a county in need of emergency-driven post conflict aid? Has it moved into a phase that requires developmental assistance? Or is both? Over the past 5 years now and particularly following the US troops withdrawal, Iraq's status is still in much debate. One suggestive indicator of an incomplete transition from emergency is the high number of IDPs that remain displaced, although IDP return rates have been increasing in recent years and months. "With some 470,000 people residing in 382 settlements in Iraq, internal displacement remains a major problem and internally displaced persons (IDPs) require continued assistance and protection from UNHCR until a dignified solution is found to their plight," says the UN Refugee Agency.[i] Other humanitarian and political…
The death toll of the Syrian Uprising to date is nearly four times greater than that of all of the other Arab Springs combined except Libya – some 11,000 dead in total.[i] Furthermore throughout the Uprising's first year both the rates of violent deaths in Syria, and in parallel refugee displacement therefrom, have been accelerating sharply. Monthly figures of Syrians killed by violence doubled in each of four consecutive periods reaching 2,000 per month by March 2012. The rate of displacement has accelerated in parallel, doubling in the last two months the number reached in the previous ten. In mid-April 2012 UNHCR reported that the number of Syrian refugees in Syria's four neighbors stands at 55,000 registered. Conservative estimates put…
03 Apr 2012

Local NGOs Funding Dilemma

Tuesday, 03 April 2012
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Based on the paper “National Funds to Support Civil Society Organizations” published by The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) in July 2010, partnership between the Government and civil society organizations is the key to achieve common goals for the betterment of their country. Governmental Funds or Foundations in several countries are looked at not only as a source of money from the government but as institutions with which civil society organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can partner as the latter are consulted upon the establishment of the former. In Iraq however, this partnership requires strengthening. Neither NGOs nor civil society organizations were mentioned in the Federal General Budget Law of 2012, recently endorsed by the Iraqi Government, although…
06 Mar 2012

Iraqi Slums: Myths and Solutions

Tuesday, 06 March 2012
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Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis live in ‘Informal Housing,’ the residential settlements in violation of city planning and official property rights, popularly referred to as ‘slums.’ Informal settlements suffer from sub-standard housing. In addition they are deprived of a wide range of services tied to legal residency: schooling, sewage disposal, electricity, water. The problem of informal housing overlaps with the greater housing crisis in Iraq. The latter represents a looming deficit of approximately 1.5 million housing units in Iraq and rising. It also overlaps with the question of IDPs, but is in no way synonymous with either. Clearing up a number of persistent myths about the reasons for the migration of informal settlers (for example, acknowledging the prioritization of job-seeking…
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