Skip to main content
Last updated: January 2021

COI summary

[Targeting, 3.4.12; COI query on minorities and stateless, 2.3]

Fayli Kurds are an ethno-religious group historically inhabiting both sides of the Zagros mountain range along the Iraq-Iran border, and can be considered a cross-border population. Fayli Kurds in Iraq live mainly in Baghdad, as well as the eastern parts of Diyala, Wassit, Missan and Basrah governorates. A sizeable population can also be found in the KRI. Estimations of the numbers of Fayli Kurds in Iraq vary from 1.5 to 2.5 million.

Fayli Kurds are Shia Muslims. Under the former Baath regime, the Fayli Kurds reportedly faced systematic marginalisation and targeted discrimination from the State. Accused of being agents of Iran, Fayli Kurds were stripped of their citizenship and 300 000 were expelled to Iran. Sources report that the persecution of Fayli Kurds largely decreased since 2003, resulting in the return of many Fayli Kurds to Iraq.

Although in 2019 the Iraqi Ministry of Interior was seeking to restore the nationality rights and legal status of the Fayli Kurds, many Fayli Kurds are still stateless, which prevents them from accessing public services. Furthermore, identity cards, which some Fayli Kurds were able to obtain, are of a different colour than those of other Iraqis or show them as citizens of ‘Iranian origin’. Insults, harassment and humiliation when visiting government offices were also reported.

Societal discrimination against Fayli Kurds occurs, and communities that are dominated by other ethnic or religious groups tend to not welcome Fayli Kurds.

The Fayli Kurds have been targeted by ISIL, including the destruction of their places of worship. Thousands of Fayli Kurds have been displaced and have sought refuge in Dohuk, Erbil, Najaf and Kerbala.

Harassment of Fayli Kurds in Baghdad intensified after the KRI set a date for its independence referendum and a number of them moved to the KRI. Reports have noted that in 2016, some Fayli Kurds joined a Shia militia that is often in conflict with the Peshmerga forces. As a consequence, the Peshmerga did not protect Fayli Kurds.

Risk analysis

The individual assessment of whether or not the treatment of individuals under this profile 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.

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: (lack of) identity documents, statelessness, area of origin (south of Iraq, areas where ISIL continues to operate), etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that, if well-founded fear of persecution could be substantiated in a specific individual context, it could be for reasons of race, religion and nationality (statelessness).