For Syrians who wish to move to work in the central and southern governorates of Iraq

Considering moving or working in the central or southern governorates of Iraq?

UNHCR has received many reports about asylum-seekers and refugees being detained at checkpoints while moving to the central and southern governorates of Iraq. Most cases were Syrian asylum-seekers and refugees registered with UNHCR in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In most of these cases, asylum-seekers and refugees were seeking work as casual or irregular labour.

Be aware!

The Ministry of Interior’s Permanent Committee for Refugees (PC-MOI) registration or humanitarian residency permits issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government are the primary forms of legal stay recognised by, respectively, Federal Iraqi authorities and the authorities of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and not UNHCR documentation. If you only possess permits issued by the KRG, please be informed that such documents may not be recognised by authorities in Federal Iraq. The residency permit for KR-I is not valid for travel to the central and southern governorates of Iraq. Registration and documentation by UNHCR alone are not enough to enable your safe travel across Iraq.

Understand the Risks

  • Asylum seekers and refugees not registered with PC-MOI may be subjected to arrest, detention, or deportation risks if they travel from KR-I to C&S.
  • Kindly note that even if you are registered with PC-MOI, you may still have to acquire clearances from both KR-I and Federal authorities travel before you travel to the Federally administered Iraq.
  • Do not take any unnecessary risks by travelling without the required documents and permits.
  • UNHCR asylum seekers or refugees’ certificates are proof that you require international protection. UNHCR certificates are, however, not a substitute for identification documents issued by the Iraqi government.  

Know your rights and obligations

As an asylum-seeker or refugee in Iraq, it is your responsibility to ensure that you follow relevant Government procedures and ensure you acquire a government form of legal stay. If you are resident in the KR-I, this means you must follow the procedures to acquire and retain a (humanitarian or regular) residency permit. If you are resident in Federal Iraq, this means seeking registration with PC-MOI. You are advised that if you do not acquire these documents, depending on your place of residence and assuming you are eligible, then UNHCR’s ability to intervene on your behalf is compromised.

While work permits are not required for asylum seekers and refugees who entered the Kurdistan Region Iraq without a visa but currently holding a valid humanitarian residency from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, engaging in informal employment and businesses are against the law in the central and southern governorates of Iraq. Engagement in informal employment puts you at risk of loss of rights, unfair pay, detention by Iraqi authorities, and deportation from Iraq.

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Protect yourself and your family

  • Always abide by the laws and regulations of the country of asylum
  • Do not attempt to move across governorates without the proper and required documents.
  • Do not risk moving between governorates by circumventing checkpoints. Engagement in such acts puts you at risk of loss of rights, money, detention by Iraqi authorities, and deportation.