Concerned about hampering the rights of displaced Iraqis seeking shelter in camps, the United Nations refugee agency today urged the Government to set up clear procedures and special facilities for screening people that are separate from camps established to provide shelter and humanitarian aid.
“There is a rising trend of newly-displaced Iraqis being forcibly transferred to camps where restrictions on their freedom of movement were being imposed in a manner disproportionate to any legitimate concern, including those related to security,” Ariane Rummery, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists in Geneva.
The concern is that as freedom of movement is curbed, so might other rights, such as access to work, food, healthcare and legal assistance, she said. In Kirkuk Governorate, since 22 February, the approximate 2,000 residents of Nazrawa have been confined to the camp, irrespective of whether or not they completed security screening procedures.
UNHCR has also been told by protection partners about instances of forcible relocation of Iraqis into camps, as well as disproportionate restrictions on their freedom of movement, elsewhere in Iraq. In northern Iraq, displaced persons face restrictions on their freedom of movement in Tilkaif District, as well as Salah Al Din and Anbar Governorates.
There are more than 3.3 million people in Iraq displaced since January 2014, in addition to nearly one million Iraqis who had been displaced since 2006-2007, according to UNHCR figures.
“With the prospect of further displacement as military operations against extremist groups escalate, it is becoming increasingly urgent for the authorities to ensure both that IDPs are granted access to safety in a timely manner, and that camps maintain their humanitarian character,” Ms. Rummery said.