Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

New Research: Iraqi IDPs See Severe Governance, Intercommunal Challenges

September 5, 2018

Washington, DC—Public opinion research released today by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research focused on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq’s Ninewa Province reveals severe governance challenges and tensions between communities. This qualitative study is based upon focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with IDPs; permanent residents of host communities; government officials; members of civil society organizations; religious leaders and journalists in Erbil and Mosul.

“The perception that the Government of Iraq does not listen to the concerns of IDPs, host communities or religious minorities helps explain the low turnout in Iraq’s May parliamentary elections,” said Patricia Karam, IRI Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “However, discussants were not totally dismissive of their government. Instead, they sought more involvement in decision-making and governance, indicating that dedicated efforts for greater inclusion could go a long way to repair Iraq’s fractured democracy.”

Focus groups discussants identified corruption and the lack of citizen-centered governance as key issues of concern and sources of frustration. Most IDPs interviewed expressed feelings of disenfranchisement and a desire for a more meaningful role in political decision-making. The discussions indicate that feelings of disempowerment across multiple groups may be undermining faith in the desirability of democracy, with some expressing nostalgia for the supposed stability offered by Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

The report also revealed the presence of complex issues of identity and inclusion and feelings of alienation across multiple communities. IDPs from religious minority groups fear they have lost their political voice at the national level, while residents of host communities expressed fears that migrants are undermining their cultures and communities.

IRI’s Iraq Program Director Ashleigh Whelan explained: “Paradoxically, there may be opportunity rooted in the shared traumas that Ninewa’s diverse communities share after ISIS. Regardless of sect, Iraqi citizens suffered tremendously at the hands of violent extremists, and each group fears their place in Iraq may be fading away.  Iraqis are tired of bloodshed and seek a better way forward – one that won’t lead back to internecine conflict – and there is desire for Mosul to remain an Iraqi melting pot.” 

IDPs expressed fears of returning to their homes because of their security concerns, and most do not plan to return to their homes, though many said they would if the government could secure their former neighborhoods. Others would like to leave Iraq altogether, and many residents of Mosul who have returned do not have confidence that they will be able to settle in the city permanently due to the security situation.  

Download the report here.