Skip to main content
Last updated: January 2021

Dohuk governorate is part of the KRI and is Iraq’s northernmost governorate. It borders Ninewa and Erbil governorates and shares international borders with Turkey and Syria. According to the Dohuk General Directorate of Tourism, the governorate is divided into six territories ‘managerially’: Dohuk, Semeal, Zakho, Amedeye, Sheikhan, and Akri. Akre and Sheikhan districts are parts of Ninewa governorate but have been administered by the KRG since 1991. The security situation in Akre and Sheikhan districts is assessed under Ninewa governorate. The capital of the governorate is Dohuk. The governorate has an estimated population of 1 326 562. The main ethnic group in Dohuk governorate are Kurds.

Dohuk governorate is under the control of the KDP. In 2017, it was reported that Dohuk governorate enjoyed a ‘stable security situation’ since the beginning of the 2014 ISIL conflict. However, during 2019 and 2020, the security situation in the northern border areas of Dohuk governorate deteriorated due to Turkish and PKK activities. The PKK has presence and control over mountainous areas in the KRI, including in the Zab Mountains in Dohuk governorate, from where it launched cross-border attacks in Turkey. Turkey has set up military bases in Dohuk to target PKK strongholds. Airstrikes, ground-based attacks and shelling targeting villages and border areas in the KRI where PKK elements were allegedly present, were reported. These attacks affected civilian areas and led to evacuation of villages, The Iraqi Border Guard Force 1 established bases to de-escalate the situation between Turkey and the PKK and to prevent losses of civilian lives. Other armed groups, including Kurdish insurgents, were also reported to operate in Dohuk governorate. Criminality, civil unrest and cross smuggling posed a limited but persistent security threat. Protests against Turkish airstrikes were also recorded.

ACLED reported a total of 751 security incidents (average of 9.1 security incidents per week) in Dohuk governorate in the reference period, the majority of which coded as remote violence/explosions. Security incidents occurred in all districts of the governorate, with the majority taking place in Amedi and Zakho districts. Few incidents were recorded in the rest of the governorate during the reporting period. For 2019, Dohuk governorate came third in terms of the number of conflict incidents following Diyala and Erbil. For the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 July 2020, UNAMI recorded 78 armed conflict related incidents, 19 taking place in 2019 and 59 from 1st January until 31st July 2020 (average of 0.9 security incident per week for the full reference period).

In the reference period, UNAMI recorded a total of 48 civilian casualties (16 deaths and 32 injuries) in the aforementioned armed conflict related incidents. More specifically, 36 casualties were reported in 2019, and 12 casualties were reported from 1st January until 31st July 2020. Compared to the official figures for the population in the governorate, this represents 4 civilian casualties per 100 000 inhabitants for the full reference period.

As of June 2020, 319 062 IDPs were registered in Dohuk governorate, the second highest number in Iraq. 99 % of those IDPs originated from Ninewa governorate. By the same date, 786 IDPs returned to their area of origin, at Zakho district. All returnees were formerly displaced within the governorate.

The Turkish military operations against PKK in Dohuk governorate have impacted the lives of villagers in the areas targeted by airstrikes. Airstrikes resulted in extensive damage to farmlands, property and infrastructure, including roads. Mine contamination in the governorate has also been reported.


Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that, in the districts of Amedi and Zakho, indiscriminate violence reaches a high level, and, accordingly, a lower level of individual elements is required to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
In the rest of Dohuk governorate, indiscriminate violence is taking place i, at such a low level that in general there is no real risk for a civilian to be personally affected by reason of indiscriminate violence within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD. However, individual elements always need to be taken into account as they could put the applicant in risk-enhancing situations.

Main COI reference: Security situation 2020, 3.1