Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Water Crisis in Basra

Human Rights Watch reports:

Iraqi authorities have failed to ensure for almost 30 years that Basra residents have sufficient safe drinking water, resulting in on-going health concerns, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The situation culminated in an acute water crisis that sent at least 118,000 people to hospital in 2018 and led to violent protests.

The 128-page report, “Basra is Thirsty: Iraq’s Failure to Manage the Water Crisis,” found that the crisis is a result of complex factors that if left unaddressed will most likely result in future water-borne disease outbreaks and continued economic hardship. The authorities at the local and federal level have done little to address the underlying conditions causing the situation.

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Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.

Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim write for The Washington Post:

Islamic State militants who escaped the defeat of their self-declared caliphate in Syria earlier this year have been slipping across the border into Iraq, bolstering a low-level insurgency the group is now waging across the central and northern part of the country, according to security officials.

About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq over the past eight months, most of them in the aftermath of the caliphate’s collapse in March, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises Iraq’s government and foreign aid agencies.

These fighters, mostly Iraqis who followed the Islamic State into Syria, are returning home to join militant cells that have been digging into rugged rural areas, sustained by intimate knowledge of the terrain, including concealed tunnels and other hiding places.

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Preparations to Confine Families in Camp

Human Rights Watch reports:

A local Iraqi organization managing a camp for displaced people is making preparations to unlawfully confine families scheduled to be transferred from northeast Syria, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Jadah 5 camp, 65 kilometers south of Mosul, has forcibly relocated 175 families from one sector of the camp to another in order to make room for the families, mostly women and children. Iraqi authorities have previously arbitrarily detained families perceived to have possible ISIS affiliation.

“Authorities in Iraq are planning to detain returning families arbitrarily, in violation of Iraqi and international law,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Segregating families – mainly women and children – coming from Syria is a step toward stigmatizing and labeling them in the absence of any credible allegation that they have committed a crime.”

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Military Enter Camp, Occupy School for ‘Screening’

Human Rights Watch reports:

Iraqi military have accompanied police in entering a camp for displaced people south of Mosul and started “screening” over 3,500 households there, Human Rights Watch said today. The screenings appear to include questioning camp residents about the actions and whereabouts of their relatives who are suspected of Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation.

The arrival of the armed men, who occupied a school in the camp, is causing panic among camp residents, who have told Human Rights Watch that they fear arrest over the acts of their relatives, and in some cases sexual exploitation. Iraqi authorities have said they plan to conduct similar screenings at other camps for displaced people in the governorate.

“While Iraqi police forces should be taking reasonable actions to improve security for everyone, the military should not be occupying schools or even entering camps for the displaced,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “No one should become a criminal suspect just because of their relatives.”

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In Iraq, minority children haunted by ghosts of IS captivity

Maya Gebeily writes for AFP:

Brainwashed and broken, the Islamic State group's youngest victims are struggling to recover from years of jihadist captivity as they return to their own traumatised minority communities in Iraq.

Dozens of Yazidi and Turkmen children were rescued in recent months as IS's "caliphate", notorious for its use of child soldiers and "sex slaves", collapsed in Syria.

Many have been reunited with their families, but their mental recovery has been slowed by prolonged displacement, a lack of resources, and a milieu accustomed to fearing, not forgiving, IS members.

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Thousands Detained, Including Children, in Degrading Conditions

Human Rights Watch reports:

Nineveh’s extremely overcrowded detention facilities are holding thousands of prisoners in Iraq, most on terrorism charges, for extended periods in conditions so degrading that they amount to ill-treatment. The authorities should ensure that prisoners are not held in inhuman conditions and that there is a clear legal basis for detentions, Human Rights Watch said today.
“The Iraqi government urgently needs to rebuild and rehabilitate its detention facilities,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraq has a duty to ensure that detainees are housed decently, in line with international standards.”

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They escaped ISIS. Then they got sucked into Baghdad’s sex trafficking underworld

Arwa Damon, Ghazi Balkiz, Brice Laine, and Aqeel Najm write for CNN:

Nadia's handshake is strong, but her voice trembles as she says hello. Leaning against a window, she describes in painful detail the twisted journey that saw her evade the grip of terrorists only to fall victim to Baghdad's sex trafficking underworld.

Stories like Nadia's have become all too familiar in the wake of ISIS' defeat in Iraq. The decline of the militant group has given rise to another evil: human trafficking networks that thrive on the spoils of war, the displaced and the desperate.

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IOM Iraq: West Mosul – Perceptions on return and reintegration among stayees, IDPs and returnees, June 2019

IOM reports:

Although 18 months have passed since the Iraqi government officially declared victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the city of Mosul – and particularly west Mosul, which was the group’s final stronghold in Iraq – is still facing significant challenges that hinder the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of whom are now living in or at-risk of protracted displacement.

Entire neighborhoods have not yet been rebuilt, basic services are insufficient in some areas, and poor sanitation is contributing to serious public health problems and the spread of diseases. Furthermore, reports of harassment and violence against civilians by state as well as non-state actors are undermining efforts to build trust in state institutions and authorities. Revenge killings and other acts of retaliation against residents of Mosul and IDPs who are suspected of joining or collaborating with IS have continued since the battle, threatening to trigger new cycles of inter-communal violence. This report, based on interviews and focus groups with a total of 110 Iraqi men and women in west Mosul and the IDP camps Hasan Sham, Haj Ali and Qayyara, provides a rapid assessment of current barriers to return and the challenges and risks that IDPs face if and when they decide to return to west Mosul. We focus in particular on social dynamics between three key populations: (1) “stayers”, west Moslawis who remained in Mosul for the duration of ISIL's three-year rule, (2) “IDPs,” west Moslawis who left the city at a relatively early stage in ISIL rule and are still displaced in IDP camps, and (3) “returnees”, those who were previously displaced from west Mosul and have since returned to the city. Although the voluntary return of IDPs has been identified as “a critical factor in sustaining a peace process and in revitalizing economic activity” as well as an indicator of successful post-conflict recovery and reintegration efforts, it is important to recognize and respond to the risk that premature or involuntary return to areas that are unsafe or inhospitable (whether as a result of hostile social dynamics, crime and violence, or inadequate infrastructure and services) may trigger new grievances and conflicts.

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Iraq says it deserves more global support in rebuilding

Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes for AP:

Iraq’s sacrifices fighting the Islamic State group have earned the country greater support in its reconstruction efforts from the international community, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Saturday.

Abdul-Mahdi made his comments Saturday morning during a meeting with a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation, the first such visit to Iraq.

The Security Council delegation included, among others, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of June Mansour Al-Otaibi and the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen.

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Iraq’s drought unveils 3,400-year-old palace of mysterious empire

Lewis Sanders IV reports for Deutsche Welle:

A team of German and Kurdish archaeologists have discovered a 3,400-year-old palace that belonged to the mysterious Mittani Empire, the University of Tübingen announced on Thursday.

The discovery was only made possible by a drought that significantly reduced water levels in the Mosul Dam reservoir.

"The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades and illustrates the success of the Kurdish-German cooperation," said Hasan Ahmed Qasim, a Kurdish archaeologist of the Duhok Directorate of Antiquites who worked on the site.

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