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Last updated: January 2021

COI summary

[Targeting, 3.4.15; COI query on minorities and stateless, 2.1]

The Palestinian population in Iraq is estimated between 4 000 to 10 000 people, compared to 40 000 Palestinians living in Iraq in 2003. The majority of Palestinians are residing in the districts of al-Baladiyat and Zafarania in Baghdad, and smaller numbers are located near Mosul, Basrah and Sulaymaniyah.

After the fall of the government of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the Palestinians became the target of hostility and harassment, particularly by armed militia, on account of their perceived association with and preferential treatment by the former regime, as well as their perceived support for Sunni militant groups. The situation of Palestinians reportedly improved between 2008 and 2012, but the escalation of violence since 2014 as a result of ISIL advances and the rise of Shia militias has brought a deterioration of the security and human rights situation for Palestinians.

The Law No. 76 of 2017 (Law on the Residence of Foreigners) classified the Palestinian refugees residing in Iraq as foreigners, rescinding earlier legislation that had stipulated they should receive the same rights and privileges as Iraqi citizens, and ending Palestinians’ permanent residency status in Iraq. The current legal status of Palestinians in Iraq is unclear. Observers report the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted some Palestinians a one-month residency, and others a permit for two to three months. The new status deprived Palestinians of the right to free healthcare, free education, pension rights, to receive basic foodstuffs at a subsidised price (the Public Distribution System (PDS) and limited their freedom of movement, as most of them have only refugee travel documents. The change in the legal status has further caused deterioration in their economic situation and has created obstacles to employment.

Due to their origin and perceived support of ISIL and other Sunni armed groups, Palestinians in Baghdad have been subjected to illegal detention, kidnapping, killings, disappearances, ill-treatment and threats.

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. militia violence, illegal detention, kidnapping, killings, disappearances). In other cases, individuals could be exposed to (solely) discriminatory measures, and the individual assessment of whether or not discrimination could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures. In this regard, the implications of their legal status should be given due consideration.

Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances such as: area of habitual residence, (perceived) links with former regime or (Sunni) militant groups, (lack of) identity documents, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is for reasons of nationality (statelessness). In some cases, it may also be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion, due to perceived support for Sunni militias or ISIL (see Persons perceived to be associated with ISIL).

 Iraq is not an area of operations of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and in most cases Article 12(1)(a) QD would not be applicable.[23]


[23] See also CJEU, Mostafa Abed El Karem El Kott and Others v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal, C-364/11, judgment of 19 December 2012; CJEU, Bolbol v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal, C-31/09, judgment of 17 June 2010[back to text]