A new Migration Policy Centre (MPC) Policy Brief: "35 years of forced displacement in Iraq: contexualising the ISIS threat, unpacking the movements" by Cameron Thibos (Migration Policy Centre, RSCAS, EUI)

This brief situates the astonishing rise of the group Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS) within Iraq’s much larger history of violent displacement. Looking across the past 35 years, it argues that ISIS may be distinct inasmuch as it has taken and held territory from Syria and Iraq, its violence is ‘non-state’, and it espouses a radically retrogressive ideology. But it is neither unique in its level of brutality nor is it an unprecedented threat to the well-being of Iraqi citizens. 

This report further discusses the evolution of ISIS and the human displacement it has caused. It demonstrates that Sunnis, Christians and Yazidis are fleeing north into the Autonomous Kurdish Region, while Shi’a are heading toward their southern heartlands. The longer this keeps up, the more striking will be the changes to Iraq’s ethnic and religious geography. Finally, it highlights the fatigue palpable among major donors today. It stresses that this must be overcome, for if Iraq is ever to know peace the full problem of IDPs in Iraq must be addressed and not just those scattered by the ISIS advance.