Thematic areas: Humanitarian Norms – Landmine Ban – Gender
The presence of political and religious militias, fragile government and the growing intensity of the demonstrations are making the situation more vulnerable as Iraq also faces a plethora of other issues related to IDPs, refugees and the resurgence of Islamic State group(ISg). The society is severely divided along ethnic, sectarian, religious and communal lines, which poses an imminent threat to the long-term stability and security, since armed actors outside the region, or representing only parts of the population, find themselves in control of large populations. Since 2018, several incidents of ISg attacking Iraqi Security Forces and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the governorates of Anbar, Salahdin, Ninveh, Diyala and Kirkuk have been reported. The current wave of violence has created new dynamics of intra Shia tensions between Iranian backed PMF groups and Shia communities. The killing of Qasim Suleimani, major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Mhandes, the deputy commander of PMF Iran-backed militias, aggravated the tensions between the US Forces and the mentioned groups. The humanitarian situation was further exacerbated after the decision to close or merge the camps in the governorates of Nineveh, Salahdin and Anbar without any duly planned process.
Geneva Call’s activities in Iraq
• Enhanced engagement for humanitarian access: important dialogue was facilitated between IOM and major PMF groups on the return of IDPs in Diyala. As a result, the governor pledged his support in conducting return related assessments. Upon a request of UN OCHA, Geneva Call engaged commanders of Brigade 30 PMF in Nineveh and facilitated the resumption of humanitarian access to certain camps.
• Strengthened ANSAs’ knowledge & capacities: activities were implemented throughout the year, such as Training of Trainers with Shia and influential PMF groups in Baghdad, Sunni and Yazidi Forces, which contributed to reinforcing Geneva Call`s relations with PMF.
• Deeds of Commitment and other humanitarian commitments: the consolidated relations with PMF groups resulted in their willingness to sign unilateral humanitarian declarations. Support was provided to the development of the Code of Conduct of the Ministry of Peshmerga, accompanied by follow up training sessions, for commanders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and their forces in Sulemaniya, including the Ezidkhan Yazidi Forces from Sinjar, on complying with the humanitarian declaration signed in December 2018.
• Consolidated awareness: through the Regional Support Unit (RSU), a workshop gathering humanitarian experts was organized in Erbil, on humanitarian issues and ANSA engagement. This contributed in developing research studies on engagement strategies with transnational ANSAs. Another workshop with Shia religious leaders’ in Najaf resulted in signing a declaration on protection of IDPs. Several training sessions on displacement were provided to PMF and Yazidi Forces, civil society organizations and IDP leaders.
• 2020: 6 armed actors and Sunni religious leaders publicly affirmed their commitment by signing unilateral declarations on the protection of healthcare and protection of IDPs.
Geneva Call expanded the engagement with hard-to-reach armed actors such as Al-Nujaba, Jund Al-Imam and, the anti-tank brigade from the Commission of PMF. As a result, the groups affirmed their commitment and responsibility towards the protection of healthcare during COVID-19 by signing a unilateral declaration on the protection of healthcare.
• 2020:Geneva Call reinforced its work with relevant CSOs to monitor, track and report violations committed by armed actors, strengthening the “Friends of IHL” network.
• 2020:Tribal leaders from Qayarah were engaged to identify issues and mechanisms of the safe return of the IDPs, allegedly associated as families of the Islamic State group (ISg) to Qayarah. Religious leaders from Mosul signed a unilateral declaration about the protection of IDPs in the aftermath of camp closures which led IDPs to resettle elsewhere.
• 2020: As a result of Geneva Call’s engagement with relevant armed actors on how to minimize the risks of the pandemic, several groups in Iraq took preventive measures such as initiating campaigns of fumigation & sterilization of public places in areas under their control benefiting around 100 000 persons living in the area.
An ongoing humanitarian engagement with MORE THAN FIVE DIFFERENT IRAQI ARMED ACTORS/ANSAS.
Geneva Call, in coordination with the Ministry of Peshmerga, developed a CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE PESHMERGA FORCES and distributed 100,000 pocket size copies of the code.
Ezidkhan Forces and Nineveh Guards signed a UNILATERAL HUMANITARIAN DECLARATION.
Our Fighter not Killer campaign reached over 50 MILLION PEOPLE and was viewed by over 10 MILLION IN IRAQ.
Atif Hameed – COUNTRY DIRECTOR