More than two years after Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) retook remaining areas of Kirkuk governorate in 2017 from the Islamic State, civilians in Kirkuk remain vulnerable to harm by ISIS, which has begun an insurgency campaign seeking to undermine government efforts at stabilization and recovery. Civilians in parts of Kirkuk are worried that their concerns, such as attacks by ISIS and intimidation, are not being adequately addressed by the government and security forces, who are unable to sufficiently deter threats and protect them, and in some cases, have been responsible for causing harm themselves.

CIVIC’s new policy brief, “We Just Want Someone To Protect Us: Civilian Protection Challenges in Kirkuk,” analyzes current protection threats to civilians in Kirkuk governorate – drawing on interviews with civilians, community leaders, members of Iraqi security forces, and other actors. It also assesses the response of security forces to these threats, the efforts by the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the ISF to improve security in the governorate and ensure the safety of its inhabitants, and the trust deficit between civilians and security actors.

In the policy brief we urge the Iraqi government to engage with communities and create early warning systems to deter and respond to threats from ISIS, train local forces on how to protect civilians and mitigate civilian harm, and investigate and hold security personnel accountable under the law.