Although ISIS lost its grip on its last remaining territory in Iraq in 2017, the legacy of the occupation still plagues the country. ISIS atrocities created deep divisions between and amongst communities which persist today. Meanwhile, armed groups that originally proliferated to combat ISIS are still prevalent throughout the country, leading to widespread insecurity in many communities. As a result,1.2 million civilians who fled their homes during the ISIS occupation have yet to return home, fearing that they will face attacks or arbitrary detention in their areas of original.
When these internally displaced persons (IDPs) do try to return home, they oftendiscover that their homes are occupied by armed actors, or by other families who have also been displaced. And even when they are able to stay in their areas of origin, they are vulnerable to violence at the hands of both their neighbors and armed groups. Women are at particular risk of sexual and gender-based violence, while men fear arbitrary detention or forced disappearance.
NP began working in Iraq in 2017, originally as an emergency response during the Mosul offensive (an extended military campaign to retake Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS). Today, NP has five field teams working to prevent violence and enhance protection for civilians in some of the areas most affected by the ISIS occupation.
In Jeddah 5, one of the last two internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Iraq, NP is the only organization who is present at night, which is when IDPs feel the least secure. By conducting night patrols and offering protective presence, NP is able to prevent sexual violence against at-risk girls and women. When conflicts break out in the camp, both IDPs and authorities often turn to NP to intervene and de-escalate tensions.
In other areas, NP works to re-establish trust between authorities and at-risk communities–especially those who have recently returned home. Through relationships with government officials, police and armed actors, NP is able to improve their responsiveness to civilian protection needs. Finally, NP works to improve at-risk communities’ ability to protect themselves and paving the way to durable solutions for the safety and security of civilians in Iraq by facilitating the creation of community protection teams.
As thousands of people remain displaced in Iraq, and with so many communities still processing the effects of war, NP’s protective presence and activities continue to be central in increasing the safety and security of civilians, and in enhancing peaceful coexistence of communities in the country. NP will keep addressing the protection concerns of IDPs, returnees, and host communities. To facilitate access to durable solutions and returns to high-risk and contested areas, we will work to create a safe space for dialogue and reconciliation between communities that were not displaced or have already been restored and communities that remain displaced. We will continue to provide protection, build local capacity, and foster social cohesion in communities across northern Iraq.
One evening on a night patrol, a male IDP approached NP, saying, “I know of NP and their nightly patrols. Because of these patrols, women feel safer in the camps, especially going to the toilets. Thank you for your work, NP.”
people connected to specialized resources, including women and girls with specific needs referred to services and assistance
454 total attendees in 39 community security meetings
families received protective presence
Our Team in Iraq
Head of Mission: Lisa Fuller Established: 2017
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