Updates for June 20-26, 2015
- Baghdad witnessed a number of attacks this week that were likely carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Those attacks coincide with the beginning of Ramadan and are intended to destabilize the capital. Meanwhile, some Iraqi students are enrolled in summer training camps set up by the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). The students are not joining the frontlines yet and the training effort appears to be intended to prepare them in case there is a need for them on the battlefield.
- According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq now exceeds 3 million. The most recent wave of displacement occurred in Anbar, with IOM reporting 276,330 Iraqis displaced since April 8, 2015 by fighting in Ramadi.
- IDPs in Maysan province in southern Iraq complain that their conditions are more difficult now. Meanwhile, IDP families continue to return to Tikrit and Salah ad-Din province in the north. Their return faces challenges in some areas due to tribal issues.
- In Iraqi Kurdistan, IDP and local youth launched a joint initiative to provide food to IDP families and also to clean the city.
- Clashes continued in Anbar province.
Baghdad Witnesses Attacks as Students Start Training with the Popular Mobilization Units
On June 21, a source from the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one Iraqi Army (IA) soldier and injury to six others due to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack in Arab Jubur area, south of Baghdad. The source added that the attack targeted the military convoy as it was passing through the area. On June 22, a source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one person and injuries to four others in an IED explosion in eastern Baghdad. The source further revealed that the explosion was caused by a sticky IED placed on a bus. On June 22, a source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of two people and injuries to six others in an IED explosion in the Husseiniya area, north of Baghdad. The source further revealed that the explosion happened at noon, next to a popular restaurant. On June 24, a source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one person and injuries to seven others due to an IED explosion near Beirut Square in the Palestine street area in eastern Baghdad. On June 25, an anonymous source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one person and injuries to five others due to an IED explosion in the Basmaya neighborhood, southeast of Baghdad. On June 25, an anonymous source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one person and injuries to seven others due to a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) explosion at a car exhibition in the Baya area, south of Baghdad. On the same day, an anonymous source from the Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one person and injuries to eight others due to an IED explosion at a car exhibition in the Shaab district, northeast of Baghdad. The source added that the bombing happened at noon, and caused material damage to a number of other cars.
On June 22, the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights stated that the number of missing persons since the fall of Mosul on June 10, 2014 has amounted to 2,935 people so far. This includes 1,697 missing persons from the Speicher Massacre and 546 missing persons from the Badush Prison near Mosul. The number of missing persons from other events has been totaled at 692 so far. This statistic is not final and the Ministry will continue to register the names of those missing victims as they become available.
On June 25, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Hussein al-Shahristani, called on college and educational institutions students to train within the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs). Shahristani stated that the students should take advantage of the upcoming summer vacation for this purpose and announced that PMUs have created training centers for students to use. Shahristani also announced the launch of an initiative for the students to provide financial support for the PMU through donations.
IDPs Reach Over Three Million
On June 23, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Iraq from January 2014 to June 4, 2015 has risen to 3.1 million. The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of the IOM identified 3,087,372 displaced individuals (514,562 families) in Iraq between January 2014 and June 4, 2015. The IOM stated that from the beginning of the fighting in Ramadi, Anbar on April 8, 2015 to June 15, 2015, 276,330 Iraqis were displaced from the city and its suburbs. The IOM stated that over 2 million IDPs live in private settings, such as rented houses, host families and hotels. Over 638,000 IDPs live in critical shelter arrangements, such as unfinished and abandoned buildings, religious buildings, informal settlements and schools.
Maysan’s IDPs Complain of Deteriorating Conditions as Return of Families Continues to Salah ad-Din
On June 24, Internally Displaced Person (IDP) families in Maysan province in southern Iraq complained about the deterioration of conditions in their camps, and confirmed that they are living in “tragic circumstances” in conjunction with the month of Ramadan. The IDPs stated that well-known politicians are “stealing” their designated funds. One IDP from Mosul, Issam Abu Ahmed, stated “the camps…lack the necessities of life” and added that “[the commencement] of Ramadan has increased the humanitarian tragedy of displaced people amid a lack of services.” Another IDP from Tikrit, Tamara al-Azzawi, stated that “the government is responsible for the suffering of the displaced citizens who complain [of] intentional negligence from the state.” Member of the Maysan Provincial Council, Sarhan al-Ghalibi, stated that the province has been hosting “thousands of families” since the fall of Mosul.
On June 24, the Governor of Salah ad-Din province, Raed al-Juburi, announced the return of more than 1,700 displaced families to their homes in Tikrit. Juburi emphasized that more families are slated to return. A representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Iraq, Rose Mary, was present in meetings among local officials. She stated that UNDP will work closely with the local authorities but that so far UNDP did not receive substantial “external support.” There are also reports of the return of IDP families to the area of Yathrib south of Tikrit. However, there are reports that tribal issues and challenges are complicating the return of the Yathrib families.
Joint Iraqi Arab and Kurdish Youth Campaign in Sulaymaniyah
On June 23, al-Mada newspaper reported on a newly-launched campaign in Sulamaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan by IDP and the city’s Iraqi Kurdish youth. The launched campaign includes food provisions for those fasting during Ramadan. The campaign also includes cleaning up the city in order to promote “bonds of love and tolerance” among Iraqis and an affirmation of unity. Ammar Mohammed, a participant in the campaign who originates from Baghdad, stated in an interview that the campaign was launched in collaboration with youth displaced from Baghdad, Diyala, Nineveh, and Sulaymaniyah. The campaign includes the distribution of dates, water and juice to pedestrians on the streets as the breaking of the fast approaches during Ramadan. Farhad Ali, a campaign participant from Sulaymaniyah also stated that this is a ‘positive initiative’ and that the youth role is important in society.
On June 21, the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denied the existence of a cholera epidemic in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in the region. The spokesperson of the Ministry, Khalis Ahmed, stated in an interview that the IDP camps are “free from the epidemic” and stressed that there are “no signs of infection now.”
Anbar Clashes Continue
On June 22, an anonymous security source stated that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) launched an attack on military units near Fallujah in the Mazraa area. The security forces repelled and defeated the attack and killed five terrorists and destroyed two vehicles carrying weapons. On the same day, a source in the leadership of the Aviation Army confirmed that 20 members of ISIS were killed in missile strikes on a house in Khalidiya Island, east of Ramadi. One leader in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), Moien al-Kadhimi, stated that the clearing operations of al-Nibai, Said Gharib, al-Thar Thar, and Thar Thar Regulator have resulted in ‘cut[ing] off’ supply routes of ISIS in Fallujah. On June 23, 24, and 25 there were reports of clashes and operations involving ISIS and the anti-ISIS forces in areas east of Ramadi in the Habbaniyah, Husaiba, and Khaldiyah areas. On June 25, police chief Maj. Gen. Hadi Rzaij confirmed that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) killed 12 members of ISIS around Haditha in western Anbar in clearing operations in the area.
Ahmed Ali is a Visiting Senior Fellow and the Director of the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. He would like to thank Abdul Bhat, Sarah Walker and Tarai Zemba for research support.