Geneva- Detaining Iraqi women and children in Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDPs) by the Iraqi government forces and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or PMF) under extremely poor conditions is deeply alarming, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
It is unacceptable to detain these people based on mere allegations of affiliation to the ISIS terrorist group, adds Euro-Med Monitor, stressing that dozens of families have been suffering from isolation, exploitation and entrapment in these camps.
Women and children are being held in camps lacking basic needs such as water, electricity, medicine, food aid, etc. They are denied their right to return to their homes, and their lives are at stake, said the Geneva-based human rights organization in a press release issued today.
Women in all the eight IDP camps are at risk of sexual exploitation by armed guards and militiamen working in the camps. Women there are forced to have sex for money or in exchange for humanitarian assistance, which they desperately need for their families’ survival.
Males in these families were killed, arbitrarily detained or enforced into disappearance when ISIS was in control, thus leaving women as the sole breadwinner of their families.
These families have systematically been denied access to the required security permits, documents and papers necessary to work and move freely. In addition, violations have been committed against them by the security forces and local authorities, which makes these camps “de facto detention centers.”
Since June 2014, 5.8 million Iraqis fled from several governorates in Iraq, including Mosul, Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Kirkuk, following ISIS’ control of these governorates. 3.2 million of them have returned to their areas, while 2.6 million IDPs still remain in displacement camps.
Despite the Iraqi government’s announcement in December 2017 that battle against ISIS has come to an end, the violations against Iraqis continue.
Recent orders issued by local and tribal authorities in Iraq aimed at preventing women and children held in displacement camps from returning to their areas of displacement is deeply concerning, said Euro-Med Monitor, warning of their exacerbating humanitarian crisis.
“The Iraqi authorities should immediately stop their systematic practices and violations against women and children in IDPs camps. Instead, they should issue orders that allow them to go back to their homes without intimidation,” says Yahya Ashraf, a Euro-Med Monitor's researcher in North African Affairs.
Ashraf noted that Iraqi women and children are accused of being ISIS-affiliates, without providing a proper legal evidence to this, under the Iraqi judicial system that is getting weaker, and in light of broad counter-terrorism laws, thus continuing abuses without respecting the rule of law.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the international community to put pressure on the Iraqi authorities to end their constant violations against Iraqi IDPs and to respect the rights of all Iraqis without discrimination.