Thousands of displaced Iraqis obtain vital legal documents with UNHCR’s help
22 January 2018
Baghdad, Iraq 22 January 2018: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is assisting displaced families across Iraq to acquire essential legal documents they need to access public services and assistance. More than 18,600 vulnerable Iraqis received legal documents and over 23,300 benefited from legal assistance related to documentation with the support of UNHCR and its partners during 2017.
During the years of extremist control and recent conflict, thousands of Iraqis lost civic status, residency and identity documents or were issued documents unrecognized by the government. Many civic records were lost or destroyed, leaving people without the legal identity that is crucial to rebuilding their lives. UNHCR is working with the relevant government entities and with partners to replace these records.
“For displaced people, these documents are stepping stones on the road to recovery,” said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative in Iraq. “Without legal documents Iraqis face manifold problems in their everyday lives, like accessing public services including social welfare benefits, moving safely through checkpoints, securing employment and exercising their rights.”
With the support of UNHCR and its partners, thousands of displaced families received new or replacement documents in governorates across Iraq in 2017. To ensure people receive the documents they need as quickly as possible, UNHCR and partners supported the authorities to establish mobile operations in recently-retaken areas as soon as it was feasible, starting from Mosul and Ninewa.
Hawiga in Kirkuk Governorate was retaken from extremist control in October 2017. By November, a mobile civil documentation team from the Residency Department was operating in the city. By the end of the year 552 documents were issued, with close to 1,000 more in the pipeline. Some 5,500 missing documents still need to be issued for people displaced from Hawiga.
Due to effective collaboration between UNHCR and the Iraqi authorities, documents are issued through Protection Assistance and Reintegration Centres or through mobile courts and mobile documentation teams. UNHCR’s protection partners work tirelessly through their legal staff to facilitate the issuance of documents from the relevant Residency Departments.
UNHCR would like to recognize donors like DfID and ECHO who provide funding earmarked for legal protection services, and the multiple donors who provide unearmarked funding. Thanks to their generosity UNHCR can support the Iraqi authorities’ efforts to ensure that every displaced Iraqi is fully documented.