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Criminal activity and other types of violence

Last updated: January 2021

ISIL relied extensively on criminality to fund its terrorist activities (e.g. extortion, looting, robbery, trafficking, kidnapping and smuggling). The violent conflict aggravated the vulnerability of Iraqis (especially women and children) to trafficking, forced labour, etc. ISIL is military defeated, but the ISIL crisis had severe impacts on the economy of Iraq; substantial parts of the country have suffered severe destruction. The organised and street-level crime appears to have increased in 2017 and criminally motivated kidnapping by ISIL, but also by Shia militias, continued to be a serious threat. Especially refugees and those IDPs who remain displaced continue to be highly vulnerable to exploitation (e.g. sex and drug trafficking) by criminal networks and gangs [Targeting, 3.1.2].

Although southern Iraq has largely escaped the ISIL violence, problems of criminality, drug abuse, and violence between Shia armed groups involved in militia and tribal groups, also occur there, including organised crime by militias, as well as kidnapping, extortion, and sex trafficking. Criminal gangs in Basrah have exploited the security gap and there has been a rise in robberies, kidnapping, murder, and drug trafficking [Targeting, 3.1.2; Key socio-economic indicators 2019, 1.3.1; Security situation 2020, 1.3.1].

Violence against women and children is commonly reported in Iraq, for example FGM, domestic violence, honour-based violence, forced and child marriage [Targeting, 3.5; see also the profile Women].