Home World Daily life, an obstacle course for Iraq’s million undocumented migrants

Daily life, an obstacle course for Iraq’s million undocumented migrants

La vida diaria, una carrera de obstáculos para el millón de migrantes sin papeles de Irak

Married for a decade, Alia Abdel Razak has no marriage contract or birth certificates for her four children. Without these official documents, she is one of the million Iraqis for whom daily life has become an obstacle course.

The absence of civil status documents "hinders access to basic services – education, health care, social security – and can restrict freedom of movement or increase the risk of arrest and detention"summarizes a note from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Mosul and its province, in northern Iraq, are particularly affected by the problem.

By seizing the metropolis -which they transformed into their "capital" in 2014- jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group installed their own administration and ousted state institutions.

Although Iraq declared victory against them in 2017, the "loss or destruction" of civil registries continues to be a major obstacle five years later, according to the UN.

Between grueling bureaucratic procedures, extreme financial precariousness, trauma and the challenge of reconciliation after the ravages of IS, citizens find it difficult to assert their rights.

To regularize his situation, Abdel Razak receives free assistance from a lawyer from the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

"The lawyers asked me for 300 or 500 dollars"the Mint. "How could I pay them if I don’t even have food?", Explain. His dilapidated apartment in Mosul, with mattresses on the floor and broken windows covered with cardboard, bear witness to his misery.

Married in 2012, Alia had her first child in 2013. Living in a rural area, she did not register her marriage or birth. She now struggles to educate her children and cannot obtain from the government the food that both she and her carpenter husband need.

policy change

His lawyer started a procedure to legalize his marriage and filiation. A court decision is expected in January.

Their eldest daughter, Nazek, almost ten years old, has just entered school, a small victory.

Another difficulty in obtaining documents is the seal of the intelligence services. With a brother accused of links to IS, Abdel Razak had to make the request three times.

In an Iraq that is still healing its wounds after the defeat of IS, one million people live with at least one missing civil status certificate, according to UN statistics.

Marriage contracts contracted under the IS must be legalized and children born during this period recognized, explains the spokesman for the Ministry of Migration and Displaced Persons, Ali Jahangir, who recalls the destruction of civil registry offices due to the "military operations" and the seizure of power by the jihadists.

His ministry coordinates mobile administrative missions to IDP camps so they can obtain missing documents, he adds.

Jordan Lesser Roy, head of communication in Iraq for the international NGO IRC, stresses the importance of raising awareness at all levels of the State to speed up procedures.

"You need to get the mayor’s approval (to move the procedure forward), but you also need a policy change"he underlines, and advocates for more mobile missions and budget increases in favor of the Directorate of Civil Affairs in the Ministry of the Interior.

A recent report by several NGOs points to the additional complexities of families suspected of "membership" with the IS.

In the case of a missing or dead husband suspected of ties to jihadists, a mother seeking a birth certificate for her child must sometimes provide DNA evidence taken from relatives, and testing can only be done in Baghdad.

No Comments

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exit mobile version