COI News

Important news from EASO and the world of COI

Our approach to COI news

The News section aims to inform users about recent COI publications or upcoming workshops/conferences. EASO selects information provided in the News section according to its relevance to the COI and asylum fields. EASO welcomes suggestions to insert a particular news (event, publication).

14 March 2019

EASO publishes a COI report: Iraq – Security situation and information on civilians killed in Iraq in 2017-2018 (by Iraq Body Count)

​The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report titled Iraq: Security situation. This report is part of a series of Iraq reports produced in 2018-2019. These reports cover actors of protection, internal mobility, key socio-economic indicators, and targeting of individuals. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Iraqi asylum seekers and will be used in the development of a country guidance note on Iraq.

Despite a decrease in asylum applications lodged by Iraqi nationals in EU+ countries in 2018, Iraq was the third most common country of origin with more than 42,000 applicants. In January 2019, Iraqi nationals remained the third largest group of applicants in EU+ countries after Syrian and Afghan nationals. At the end of January 2019, about 26,000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The report, EASO COI Report: Iraq – Security situation provides a general overview of the security situation in Iraq, covering the following topics: a general background of recent conflicts in Iraq; the current political situation; information on the main armed actors and their territorial presence and role; an overview of recent security trends; the impact of the violence on the civilian population; and the impact of the violence on the state ability to secure law and order.

The second part of the report provides a governorate-level description of the security situation. Each governorate chapter includes a map, brief description of the governorate, background conflict dynamics and armed actors present in the area, followed by a description of security trends in 2018, and the impact of the violence on the population.

The report was drafted by Country of Origin Information (COI) specialists on Iraq from Belgium, France, and Sweden, together with EASO COI sector, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology, and was reviewed by COI experts from the Norway (Landinfo), Austria, and Greece. Additionally, an external expert review was carried out by ACCORD, and also by Dr. Fanar Haddad, a Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore who specialises in sectarian issues and politics in Iraq.

In addition to the security situation report, EASO published a country of origin information document produced by Iraq Body Count (IBC), which provides data and trends with regard to civilian deaths during the conflict in 2017-2018: Iraq Body Count Data and Analysis on Civilians Killed in Iraq, 2012, 2017-2018.

Additional information to complement this report can be found in the following EASO reports:

You can download the report at: https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/Iraq_security_situation.pdf

07 March 2019

EASO publishes a COI report: Iraq – Targeting of individuals

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report titled Iraq: Targeting of individuals. This report is part of a series of Iraq reports produced in 2018-2019. These reports cover actors of protection, internal mobility, and targeting of individuals. A security situation report will also be published in March 2019. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Iraqi asylum seekers and will be used in the development of a country guidance note on Iraq.

Despite a decrease in asylum applications lodged by Iraqi nationals in EU+ countries in 2018, Iraq was the third most common country of origin with more than 42,000 applicants. In January 2019, Iraqi nationals remained the third largest group of applicants in EU+ countries after Syrian and Afghan nationals. At the end of January 2019, about 26,000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The EASO COI report, Iraq – Targeting of individuals, aims to provide information on topics related to the targeting of individuals by armed actors in Iraq, as well as by sectors of society. The report deals with the modus operandi, methods and targeting strategies used by armed actors, both on the side of the insurgents as on the side of state armed actors and affiliated armed groups, in the context of the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Society-based targeting on issues such as transgression of social norms, gender, crime, or on the basis of particular identities, is also discussed in a separate chapter.

The report was drafted by COI researchers from Cedoca, the Belgian COI unit in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report was reviewed by EASO and COI researchers from national asylum authorities represented in EASO's Iraq COI Network: The Netherlands - Office for Country Information and Language Analysis, Ministry of Justice and Denmark - Danish Immigration Service.

Additional information to complement this report can be found in the following EASO COI reports:

You can download the report at

https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/Iraq_targeting_of_individuals.pdf

19 February 2019

Lifos report: Afghans in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has for decades been a host country for an Afghan refugee population. Today, Iran is hosting approximately 950 000 Afghan refugees with assistance from UNHCR. These refugees are holders of amayesh-cards, granting them legal residency and basic social services in Iran. In addition to this registered group, there is a significant number of Afghan citizens residing and working illegally in the country. Furthermore, there are also around 620 000 Afghan citizens in Iran holding temporary permits, like work or student visas, for their stay in the country.

The main focus of the Iranian government has for many years been the voluntary return of the registered Afghans, but in recent years there has been a shift in their practical stance. There have been new progressive developments for the Afghan population living in Iran enabling them to become better prepared for future repatriation as well as better equipped for contribution to the Iranian society while living there.

This practical shift has partly been brought about by realities on the ground in Afghanistan as the precarious security situation there means that there is currently no sustainable return for all the Afghans from Iran. The positive developments for Afghans in Iran does not only include the amayeshregistered population but also Afghans residing illegally in the country. Since an educational decree was issued by the Supreme Leader in Iran in 2015 all Afghan children in the country have the right to free basic education. Furthermore, in 2017 the government initiated a headcount exercise that by mid-September had covered around 800 000 illegal residents in the country, most of them Afghans. Participating in the headcount implies the possibility of being protected from deportation for the time being. No one knows the end state yet of this headcount exercise, but it may eventually open up for the headcounted to get their stay in Iran regularized through temporary visas, as was the case with a previous programme launched in 2010 called the Comprehensive Regularization Plan.

Even though there have been progressive developments for Afghans in Iran during recent years, there are still plenty of hardships faced by many of the Afghans living in the country. Afghans are still subjected to a number of restrictions in areas like work, higher education, ownership of property and freedom of movement. It also remains a fact, that in spite of the headcount and other positive developments for the unregistered Afghans, a huge number of Afghans are still being deported from Iran every year.

These hardships faced by Afghans in Iran as well as the uncertainty regarding the future both in Iran and in the homeland still generates secondary movements of Afghans towards Europe, especially among the least integrated Afghans in Iran, although the number has decreased since the great migration wave in 2015.

The report is in Swedish and can be downloaded at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/sweden/PLib/190218201.pdf

05 February 2019

EASO publishes two COI reports on Iraq: Key socio-economic indicators (Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil) and Internal mobility

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published two Country of Origin Information (COI) Reports on Iraq. One report is titled Key socio-economic indicators (Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil), and the second one Internal Mobility. These reports are part of a series of Iraq reports produced in 2018-2019. They cover actors of protection, key socio-economic indicators in Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil, and targeting of individuals. A security situation report will also be published in early 2019. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Iraqi asylum seekers, and will be used in the development of a country guidance note on Iraq.

Both reports, EASO COI Report: Iraq – Internal mobility and EASO COI Report – Iraq: Key socio-economic indicators, should be read in conjunction with each other.

In 2017Iraq ranked second among the most common countries of origin with more than 52 500 persons applying for international protection in the EU+ countries. In 2018, fewer asylum applications were lodged by Iraqi nationals in EU+ countries. Despite this decrease, Iraq was the third most common country of origin of applicants in the EU+, with close to 42 000 applicants recorded from January to October 2018. At the end of October 2018, around 26 000 cases awaited a first-instance decision.

The EASO COI Report: Iraq – Internal mobility aims to provide information on legal and practical aspects of mobility in Iraq. The report was drafted by the EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology, and was reviewed by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office’s Centre for Documentation. In addition, the report was reviewed by the external expert Dr Geraldine Chatelard, social anthropologist and historian of contemporary Middle Eastern studies.

The EASO COI report: Iraq – Key socio-economic indicators aims to provide information on key socio-economic indicators in Iraq focusing on Basrah, Erbil, and Baghdad, and highlighting aspects of the situation of IDPs in those areas, as well as women and children. Relevant indicators include the general economic situation, access to employment and livelihoods, poverty, food and water security, housing and living conditions, access to health care, access to education, access to support and assistance, and the role of support networks. The report was co-drafted by the Migration Office of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic (Department of Documentation and Foreign Cooperation) together with the EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was also reviewed by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office’s Centre for Documentation, and Dr Geraldine Chatelard.

17 January 2019

Lifos report: Turkey - The current situation two years after the attempted coup

The security and political situation in Turkey witnessed gradual changes since the attempted coup in July 2016. The level of violence reportedly subsided in the past two years. The Kurdish dominated region, southeast of the country, remains contentious. Armed confrontations between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdish rebel guerrilla, Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK), have scaled down and are mostly contained to rural areas. Terror attacks also diminished. This is mainly attributed to the government’s stepped up measures against members of the PKK and the so-called Islamic State (IS). Security forces have carried massive nationwide counterterror operations, which resulted in arrests and detention of hundreds of suspects.

Turkey further escalated its military operations in northern Syria and northern Iraq. In January 2018, the Turkish army launched an offensive, code-named Olive Branch, aimed at targeting the Syrian Kurdish forces’, Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG), hegemonic ambitions in the region. In addition, the offensive further seeks to secure a buffer zone (established during operation ‘Euphrates Shield’) along the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey’s observatory role in the de-escalation zones in Idlib has given

President Erdogan another foothold in Syria. Idlib, an eminent target for the Syrian army’s upcoming offensives, hosts tens of thousands of radically-minded rebel fighters, affiliated to various rivaling groups (exp. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), who were previously relocated to the north as a result of the Syrian army’s takeover of earlier rebel-held areas in other parts of the country. Their presence in the Turkish-controlled demilitarization zone in northwestern Syria increases the fragility of the region, especially Idlib. A potential Syrian offensive on Idlib is likely to trigger a refugee wave towards the Turkish border. Subsequently prompting a humanitarian crises which could have serious implications for Turkey, who today hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees in the Middle East region (3.5 million refugees). A military escalation could also lead to a direct confrontation between Turkey - a NATO member- and the Assad regime. The meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan on September 17, thwarted a full-scale offensive in Idlib. Both leaders agreed to uphold a demilitarization zone between the rebel groups and the Syrian forces, as well as stripping the rebel groups from heavy weapons, tanks and mortars. The question remains as to whether Russia can continue to contain Assad’s belligerent ambitions to, once and for all, break the last frontier of resistance in northwestern Syria. Another question is whether Turkey will be able to fulfill its part of the deal of disarming and relocating the rebel groups outside Idlib.

The political situation is also uncertain. The recent presidential and parliamentarian elections, held in June this year, may have secured Erdogan the presidency (by over 50% of the votes) for another five years, it did not however give his party (Adalet ve Kalikinma Partisi (AKP)) the parliamentarian majority to govern freely. Erdogan’s failure to secure an absolute majority in the 600-seat parliament has prompted him to form a coalition with the Nationalist party – Milliyetci Hareket Partisi (MHP). How the alliance is likely to shape politics in parliament and Erdogan’s ability share power remains to be seen.

The two-year-long emergency rule, imposed in the wake of the coup attempt, came to end in on July 19 2018. Shortly thereafter the parliament ratified a new terrorism law, proposed by the AKP. The law strengthens the authorities’ powers in detaining suspects, as well as restricting their movements. The legislation further authorizes the government to dismiss public servants (as well as personnel within the security sector and judiciary) suspected of links to a terror organization.

The prevailing situation has had a negative impact on civilians. The government continues to crackdown on members of the Gülenist Movement and other persons suspected of affiliation to the coup attempt, or with connection to presumptive terror organizations. The numbers of dismissals appear to have decreased in figures, but not in intensity. More than 150,000 persons have been dismissed since July 2016, and around 50,000 are currently awaiting trial, on charges pertaining to the coup attempt. The outcome remains uncertain. Prospects of reinstatement for those who lost their jobs following the coup attempt remain bleak. Those effected did not only lose their livelihood, but also social benefits and pensions. The social isolation and the stigma that many face as a result has also hampered any future prospects of reintegration into society, be it within the labor market or otherwise.

Several major, politically motivated trials against alleged coup plotters, mainly within the military and police force, as well as journalists and activists, have resulted in harsh and long prison sentences, some of which amounting to multiple life sentences.

Cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody is further reported, especially against persons detained for connections with the Gülenist Movement, and PKK, as well as other terror related activities.

Groups mostly effected by the developments following the purge are predominately human rights activists, journalists and civil servants. Secondary groups also effected by the unfolding events of the last two years are lawyers, defending those standing trial on charges connected to the coup attempt. Another particular group of interest presented in the report is the situation of the Syrian refugee population. Syrian refugees were not directly targeted as a result of the coup attempt. However, Turkey’s ongoing intervention in northern Syria and the continuous influx of Syrian refugees to Turkey has given rise to tensions between locals and the Syrian refugee population residing in various parts of Turkey today. Public services in local Turkish communities, such as health and education, are economically strained and overstretched by the rapid expansion in the number of Syrian refugees that have arrived since the Syrian crises began in 2011. This has led to mounting tensions between refugee groups and the local population, as refugees compete over low-wage jobs and access to public services. The potential for anti-refugee violence is particularly noticeable in larger cities, such as Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. There have also been allegations that local authorities in a number provinces are forcibly returning Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey illegally. Turkish migration authorities have denied the allegations.

The report is in Swedish and can be downloaded at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/sweden/PLib/190128751.pdf