Najaf governorate is located in the southwestern part of Iraq. It borders Anbar, Babil, Qadissiya and Muthanna governorates, and shares an international border with Saudi Arabia to the south. The governorate is divided into three districts: Najaf, Kufah and Al-Manathera. The capital is Najaf City. The governorate has an estimated population of 1 510 338, with the majority being Shia Arab.
In 2017, it was reported that a security void resulted from the deployment of security forces in 2014 to fight the ISIL insurgency in central and northern Iraq and left the southern region open to tribal clashes, criminal activity and political violence. As of 2020, Iraqi police is responsible for the governorate of Najaf, however one source indicated that all eight southern governorates should be considered areas of shared control between the Iraqi army or police and the PMU. There are also reports of demonstrations in the governorate turning violent, mainly at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. Protesters set fire, damaged buildings, and engaged in revenge killings. Several demonstrators were killed when Iraqi forces opened fire and attacked them. In May 2020, protests resumed but with lower number of demonstrators.
ACLED reported a total of 42 security incidents (average of 0.5 security incidents per week) in Najaf governorate in the reference period, the majority of which coded as riots. Battles, explosions/remote violence and violence against civilians were also reported in this period. Security incidents occurred in all districts of the governorate, with the largest overall number being recorded in the district of Najaf. UNAMI recorded 11 armed conflict related incidents, 10 taking place in 2019 and 1 between 1st January and 31st July 2020 (average of 0.1 security incidents per week for the full reference period).
In 2019, UNAMI recorded a total of 19 civilian casualties (4 deaths and 15 injured) in the aforementioned armed conflict related incidents. No casualties were reported by UNAMI from 1st January until 31st July 2020. Compared to the official figures for the population in the governorate, this represents 1 civilian casualty per 100 000 inhabitants for the full reference period.
As of 30 June 2020, Najaf governorate hosted a total of 12 546 IDPs, the vast majority of whom originated from Ninewa. No returns to Najaf governorate were recorded.
Najaf, together with Basrah and Muthanna governorates, accounted for 98 % of the prevalence of cluster munition contaminating the southern governorates.
Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the governorate of Najaf 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, 4.5