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Last updated: January 2021

This subsection concerns children who do not have a parent or other adult family member who can take care of them in Iraq.

COI summary

[Targeting 2019, 3.8.7; KSEI 2019, 4.1.1, 10.6; Internal mobility, 4.3]

The Iraqi State has few resources for such children, and the country’s communities are too overwhelmed to handle the orphans’ needs. Most of these children have been placed in the care of their extended families.

There are no accurate statistics on the number of abandoned babies in Iraq. Abandoned babies are perceived as disgraceful or the product of illicit sexual relations, and therefore, ‘alienated and despised’ who later become socially outcast; the mothers are at risk of being killed in honour killings by their families. Children of unknown parentage are not easily accepted in Iraq.

Adoption is not possible under Iraqi law, which permits only ‘guardianship’; that can only be granted to extended family or friends ‘who can provide for the child’. Adoption and orphanages are seen as ‘last resorts’ in Iraq.

Iraq lacks enough orphanages to host the large number of children who have lost both parents. In 2014, it was reported that Iraq has 23 orphanages. It was reported that they did not provide sufficient care and education to orphans. Media reports have observed an increasing number of children of ISIL members and foreign jihadists who have been left orphans and abandoned in Baghdad.

Risk analysis

The individual assessment of whether 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 children under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: (lack of) identification documents, whether their parentage is known, being born out of illicit sexual relations, area of origin, religion, ethnicity, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Where well-founded fear of persecution is substantiated, available information indicates that persecution of children under this profile may be for reasons of membership of a particular social group. For example, persecution of abandoned children or children of unknown parentage may be for reasons of membership of a particular social group due to their common background which cannot be changed and distinct identity in Iraq, in relation to stigmatisation by society.