Following years of devastating conflict, Iraq continues to face complex migration management challenges, including a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the reintegration of returned Iraqis from abroad and the safe and effective management of its borders. Long-term, sustained uncertainty and instability have compounded these challenges by generating distrust between communities and law enforcement agencies, diminishing the accountability and legitimacy of law enforcement as security providers.
This further impedes the ability of Iraqi authorities to contain trafficking in persons. Insufficient regulation in the recruitment of foreign workers has put migrants at risk of labour exploitation and human trafficking. Iraqi citizens have also become victims of trafficking with women and girls being especially vulnerable to the risks of sexual enslavement and exploitation.
IOM Iraq aims to support government authorities to better understand and manage migration flows, strengthen immigration and border management, develop policies and regulations that facilitate safe, regular migration and enhance cooperation with international partners.
- Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration
In coordination with the Iraqi government, IOM supports Iraqis who have chosen to return home from abroad to re-establish themselves in their communities. IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme offers reception assistance, counselling, reintegration plan formation, cash assistance, in-kind assistance and monitoring, post-arrival support, cash grants and in-kind assistance towards small businesses, job placements, vocational training, education and a housing allowance. The AVRR programme has facilitated the return of thousands of Iraqis from across Europe, Australia, South-East Asia and the Middle East.
IOM’s Resettlement Programme provides movement assistance to Iraqis and refugees who are entitled to resettlement in other countries, in collaboration with different resettlement countries, Iraqi authorities and UNHCR. The movement of migrants and refugees travelling under the auspices of IOM Iraq is handled from the point of departure to the destination country. Assistance begins when a migrant is accepted by the resettlement country and a request to assist in the migrant’s movement is sent to the mission by its government authority, such as an embassy or the immigration department.
- Family Assistance Programme
IOM Iraq and the German Federal Foreign Office jointly established the Family Assistance Programme (FAP) to facilitate the safe and orderly reunification of Syrian and Iraqi families in Germany. FAP empowers families with Arabic and Kurdish language information and visa-related support services, thereby safeguarding them from misinformation and exploitation by unscrupulous visa brokers and smugglers. Remote assistance is offered to those unable to travel to the FAP service centre located in Erbil, as well as temporary entry visa sponsorship for Syrian applicants otherwise prohibited from entering the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
- Community Policing Forums
IOM Iraq’s Community Policing (CP) initiatives strive to rebuild trust and promote a collaborative relationship between communities and law enforcement agencies, enabling police forces to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, thereby restoring their accountability and legitimacy as security providers. In coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MoI) and local authorities, IOM trains and supports community members and law enforcement to establish Community Policing Forums (CPFs), open and inclusive platforms where security issues affecting the community can be discussed to encourage joint problem solving and prevent disputes from escalating into violence. Representatives of civil society organizations are key actors in CPFs as they can bridge the gap between community and government.
- Women’s Legal Counselling Offices
In this context of instability, women face disproportionate challenges to live their lives in safety, dignity and privacy. IOM Iraq’s Community Policing and Counter-Trafficking programming work to establish Women’s Legal Counselling Offices (WLCOs) and support the recruitment of female legal specialists. WLCOs provide women access to legal services addressing gender-based violence (GBV), conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), trafficking and documentation, as well as referrals to appropriate protection services.
- Referral Guidance Centres
Referral Guidance Centres are another component of Community Policing initiatives. These centres are built adjoining existing police offices and serve as safe spaces where at-risk individuals, such as victims of GBV and CRSV, can receive immediate assistance from trained professionals, referrals to relevant support services, advice about filing a criminal complaint and information regarding what options are available to them to seek redress.
- Immigration and Border Management
IOM Iraq strengthens the MoI’s border management capacity by training officials to conduct routine border operations and crisis management, refurbishing critical infrastructure and providing mobile border management equipment and software (MIDAS) to effectively monitor cross border movements, detect and intercept potential irregular movements and process individuals crossing the border.
- Migration Governance
Iraq continues to take important steps in developing its national capacities in migration governance. IOM Iraq provides support by conducting Migration Governance Indicator (MGI) processes which assess existing national migration governance capacities and produce evidence for migration policy development. Gaps identified by the MGI assessment are used as the basis of Iraq’s National Migration Strategy (NMS), the main framework for the national implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.