Overview of our action in Iraq
Despite the military victory against the Islamic State (IS) in 2017, the stabilization of Iraq remains fragile. The project of a sustainable and inclusive reconstruction faces many material and political challenges. Internally divided and facing a fiscal crisis, the federal government, is facing multiple challenges to provide security and functional public services for the entire population. Its authority is also challenged by local armed groups, some of which have a national reach and benefit from the gains made in the battle against the EI.
Recurring demonstrations illustrate popular discontent and frustration, particularly in the country’s central and southern governorates. In the north, the struggle for influence between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the so-called “disputed” territories is undermining security and fueling local tensions. About 1.2 million Iraqis are still unable or unwilling to return to their hometowns or villages out of concern for their personal safety.
While they are significantly less numerous than in 2016, when they had been estimated at 3.4 million, the pace of returns slowed significantly from the summer of 2018 onwards. The external influence of state and non-state actors who have become stakeholders in the resolution of the multiple crises affecting the country adds itself to the internal challenges facing Iraq today.
This influence is particularly sensitive given the strategic position occupied by Iraq on both the regional and geo-political scenes.
Since July 2019, Promediation’s action aims to contribute to the stabilization of the Sinjar district, located on the Syrian border, northwest of Mosul. Funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), the project aims to foster the emergence of an accepted governance by the different actors. It is intended to contribute to facilitating the “return” of the State as an institution with the capacity to serve and protect the population.
In 2014, the district had a population of about 500,000 inhabitants, mainly Yezedis, but also Kurds and Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis, as well as Christians. The expansion of IS in Iraq in the summer of 2014 had a dramatic impact on the population of the Governorate. Notably, it resulted in the death or enslavement of several thousand Yezidis, and the exile of 300,000 to 400,000 persons.
Despite an early takeover of this district by the International Coalition and partially habitable infrastructures, the return of inhabitants to the Sinjar district remains somewhat more limited than in neighboring territories. Displaced persons are refraining from returning to their homes due to continuing inter-community tensions and the state’s inability to provide security and public services.
A further issue is the future coexistence between communities that the conflict has divided and opposed with extreme violence. Since 2019, Promediation’s team has gathered and established relationships of trust with representatives of all parties and communities. This local network is composed of individuals selected on the basis of the following criteria:
• Their degree of representativeness of their community;
• Their acceptability within other Sinjar communities;
• Their commitment to the rules of a fully inclusive dialogue;
• Their ability to positively influence the stabilization process.
In collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Promediation has brought together representatives of Sinjar and the federal authorities and KRG in “round tables” in Sinuni, in December 2019, and in Mosul, in February 2020. The most recent of these roundtables was held in Dohuk in October 2020. These events, extensively prepared by the teams, offer participants the opportunity to exchange, in a neutral and secure space, with the facilitation of Promediation, on their common problems and possible solutions. The recommendations developed, relating to the security framework and socio-economic resilience, were presented to representatives of the Federal Government and the KRG, as well as to relevant UN agencies and international cooperation donors. The local teams remain in contact with the participants and more broadly with our local contacts to ensure follow-up and continuity.
Promediation sets out this work with local Sinjar representatives and government institutions in a long-term perspective. Its team will therefore continue the exchanges, sharing of analyses and meetings at the relevant levels, in collaboration with the United Nations and other humanitarian actors operating in the area.
Moreover, these two years have allowed our team to build an extensive network of actors and organizations and to develop an expertise. They are likely to be mobilized both within Sinjar and throughout the country. Promediation is therefore in a position to deploy itself on other regions and regional issues.