Reframing Social Fragility in Areas of Protracted Displacement and Emerging Return in Iraq

A Guide for Programming by social inquiry and iom

This research, carried out in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration’s Community Revitalization Programme and Social Inquiry, provides an evidence-based analysis of social fragility at the micro-level in areas of protracted displacement and emerging returns in Iraq. Data collected on these dynamics and the information generated from it are used to propose a new design and implementation of social cohesion programmes, with the aim of supporting broader-scale stabilization, development and peacebuilding efforts.

Several factors need to be taken into account to understand social fragility and cohesion in terms of relationships within and between groups and between groups and the state. These factors include demographic history and diversity, governance and security, past development neglect by the state, shortage of livelihoods, human rights violations, and degree of community mobilization. In asking questions on these six vectors, common themes emerged across communities and population groups across Iraq.

Taking these dynamics into account, those who endeavour to promote social cohesion in areas of protracted displacement and emerging returns should keep in mind the perceived fairness of their interventions, the importance of allowing people to share narratives the need to build agency and mobilize people around goal-oriented actions, the need to focus on youth while paying heed to inter-generational dynamics, the creation of integrated public spaces for interaction, the importance of ongoing staff training, and the fact that social cohesion takes time. However, for any grassroots and localized changes to prevail, local and national authorities must also participate in developing strategies that address the needs and concerns of all those affected on the ground.


Scenarios of Fragility in Northern Nineveh

Baseline assessment for the subdistricts of Wana, Zummar, Rabbia, Sinuni

This assessment in Sinuni (Sinjar district), Rabbia and Zummar (Tel Afar district), and Wana (Tel Kaif district), all in Nineveh governorate, unpacks the intersecting relationships that bind members of this diverse community to each other, the different communities to one another, and the communities to the state — and also the factors that may pull all of these relations apart. It explores how social cohesion and peacebuilding are central components in not only understanding but reducing fragility. The waves of displacement and return that have occurred as a result of ISIS takeover and expulsion, coupled with its disputed political status and the legacies of past Arabization and terrorism, highlight the social fragility of the area and potential for further instability.

In carrying out qualitative data collection to establish an evidence base for peacebuilding program implementation and evaluation, Social Inquiry mapped the current and historic ethnic, religious, tribal, and demographic profiles of the four subdistricts; identified the various factors influencing intra- and inter-group relations at the community level; evaluated which actors and institutions are influential in each subdistrict; and provided recommendations for programming based on an analysis of potential future “scenarios of fragility” if the situation is not managed appropriately in the area. Such scenarios are summarised in:

  1. Disappointment and new grievances emerging from the new status quo.

  2. Widening gap between leaders, especially of minorities, and citizens, giving space for opposition within an extremely tribal and hierarchical context.

  3. Armed groups and/or political factions generate more fragility after ISIS.

  4. Returns (or absence of returns) sparking new tensions.

  5. Authorities promise justice, but it is inefficient, lopsided, and/or not forthcoming.


The Dynamics of Zummar for Early Recover Programming in Six Villages

Baseline assessment for the subdistricts of Wana, Zummar, Rabbia, Sinuni


Among Brothers and Strangers

Identities in Displacement in Iraq

Abstract: Through analysis of primary qualitative data collected in Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Sulaimaniya Governorates in Iraq, this paper seeks to highlight the rapidly shifting and fragmenting identity dynamics at play in the emerging aftermath of ISIS and the impact this, and previous legacies of violence and repression, has had on relationships within and between groups, and groups and the state. Communities increasingly position themselves against one another in relation to vindication of rights and protection. This zero-sum positioning comes from a history of mismanagement of communities and their respective grievances by the state andinternational partners. Formal acknowledgement of suffering across groups by the state may serve as a first step to break this cycle of negation toward one of inclusion, in the midst of mass displacement and emerging population returns.