The Impact of Internal Displacement in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Internally displaced people, interethnic relations, and social cohesion in Duhok

Authored by: Alex Munoz , Kelsey Shanks

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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The city and governorate of Duhok in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) have witnessed several waves of forced migration since the United States–led occupation in 2003, including those fleeing violence after the 2006 Samarra bombings and the resulting sectarian conflict, Syrian refugees escaping the civil war that began in 2011, and internally displaced people (IDPs) who evacuated to the area after the Islamic State’s invasion of Mosul and surrounding territories in 2014. These demographic shifts have added to a diverse population that includes, alongside the Kurdish majority, substantial numbers of Arabs, Assyrian Christians, and Yezidis. Concurrently, the KRI has experienced an oil-driven economic boom that has kindled a belated urbanization process (compared with Erbil and Sulaymaniyah). In examining the impact of these displacement crises on Duhok, especially the effect on social cohesion and social tensions arising from interethnic relations, it is clear that displacement has negatively affected social cohesion in the KRI and that regional stability and protection of minority rights will depend on sustained political commitment to identifying and pursuing peaceful solutions.

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