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Iraq Statelessness Report (September 2022)

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UNHCR
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Statelessness and Risks of Statelessness in Iraq: Faili Kurd and Bidoon Communities

A stateless person is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law. Statelessness can often have a devastating impact, barring access to human rights and basic services. Although the exact number of stateless persons, persons of undetermined nationality and persons at risk of statelessness is unknown, stateless persons live in all regions of the world.

In line with the #IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024 and the Global Action Plan, UNHCR Iraq is accelerating efforts to ensure everyone has a nationality and access to nationality documents in Iraq. To better understand the situation of stateless and at-risk populations in Iraq and enable targeted action, a quantitative study was initiated at the end of 2021.

Iraq has historically hosted stateless populations such as the Faili Kurds, who were systematically stripped of their nationality in the 1980s, and Bidoons from Kuwait. The 2005 Constitution of Iraq recognizes the right to Iraqi nationality for anyone born to an Iraqi father or Iraqi mother - a good practice in the region.1 The 2006 Nationality Law has reinstated Iraqi nationality to all persons denaturalized on political, religious or sectarian grounds by the former regime. It also provides for the possibility of naturalization for non-Iraqis. Despite a progressive Nationality Law in the Middle East, existing gaps in the Law and relevant by-laws/instructions could still lead to statelessness or increase the risk of statelessness.

Administrative and financial hurdles, as well as lack of awareness amongst at-risk populations, are reported to have further contributed to some individuals’ inability to access Iraqi nationality.

Currently, there are no official statistics on stateless people in Iraq. However, there are several stateless populations and those at risk of statelessness in Iraq. Two such groups are the Faili Kurds and Bidoons, who were the focus of the mapping exercise detailed in this report. Other groups not covered by this study include:

▪ The Dom (Roma)

▪ Iraqis of African descent

▪ Children born to ISIL members/affiliates/those with perceived affiliations, including children born to Yazidi survivors of gender-based violence

▪ Stateless refugees from Syria (particularly amongst Maktomeen and Ajanib)

▪ Goyan and Omariyah Kurdish minorities from Turkey in Ninewa governorate

2021 Mapping exercise and methodology

▪ The scope of the study and design of the questionnaire was informed by an analysis of the national legal and policy framework, existing literature, and UNHCR guidelines on researching statelessness.

▪ The questionnaire consisted of 64 questions, designed by UNHCR at the household (HH) level using the Kobo application in English, Arabic and Kurdish.

▪ Faili Kurds and Bidoons, as two of the main population groups known to be stateless or at-risk of statelessness, and ten Centre/South Governorates, where the majority of them reside, were targeted. The study did not cover all locations where Faili Kurds or Bidoon reside, or all persons/families in the targeted locations.

▪ 1,163 household-level interviews (4,906 individuals) were completed, with 570 Faili Kurd heads of households (2,410 individuals) and 593 Bidoon heads of households (2,496 individuals) and nine key informant interviews by UNHCR and its local partner, the Legal Clinic Network (LCN).

▪ The findings are self-reported, with documents verified by the data collection team, based on the voluntary decision of the head of household (HoH) interviewed to show evidentiary documentation. UNHCR and LCN were not able to independently verify/confirm all information.

The questionnaire aimed to:

▪ Better understand the nationality situation of the targeted communities, as well as their possession of nationality documents,

▪ Identify persons reporting to be stateless/who are unaware of their nationality and persons who do not possess Iraqi nationality documents, for targeted legal aid; and

▪ Identify obstacles and challenges to (re)acquiring Iraqi nationality and obtaining the Iraqi Nationality Certificate (INC).