UNHCR: Refugees’ Freedom of Movement Restricted

By Ariane Rummery, UNHCR spokesperson.

The UN Refugee Agency is concerned about a rising trend of newly-displaced Iraqis being forcibly transferred to camps where restrictions on their freedom of movement are imposed in a manner disproportionate to any legitimate concern, including those related to security.

While recognizing the responsibility of authorities to undertake security screening of people fleeing territory controlled by extremist groups, we urge the government to set up clear procedures and facilities for this purpose that are separate from camps established to provide shelter and other humanitarian assistance to displaced Iraqis.

Nazrawa camp, in Kirkuk Governorate, was opened by UNHCR in November 2015 for internally displaced Iraqis seeking safety from conflict and severe human rights abuses, thanks to flexible funding from over ten donor countries.

This was a response to a long-standing request by the Kirkuk authorities for more support from the humanitarian community in their efforts to provide protection and assistance to large numbers of internally-displaced Iraqis (currently nearly 400,000 in the governorate). Approximately 2,000 displaced Iraqis are currently residing in Nazrawa camp.

However, authorities have progressively imposed movement restrictions on residents of the camp and since 22 February 2016 all residents have been confined to the camp, irrespective of whether or not they have completed security screening procedures.

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