DAY 3461: TUESDAY 23RD NOVEMBER 2010.
On 22 November 2010 the BBC reported the breathtakingly uncaring hypocrisy of a war mongering Tory Foreign Office 'Minister' Mr Birt.
UK 'to continue deporting failed Iraqi asylum seekers'
The UK first started returning Iraqis to Baghdad last year. However, despite security improvements in Baghdad and elsewhere, explosions and shootings remain a daily occurrence in much of Iraq. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has objected to the policy of returning failed asylum seekers to central Iraq - enforced by the UK as well as other European countries - as it maintains that it is still not safe to do so. The majority are sent on from Baghdad to the relatively secure north of the country.
Last month, the European Court of Human Rights wrote to inform the UK government that it would apply "Rule 39" to any Iraqi challenging their deportation. This rule means, in effect, that anyone from Iraq who takes their case to the European Court will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK, at least temporarily. The letter said the court had taken the decision in view of what it called the deterioration in the security situation in Baghdad. The decision, which is to be reviewed on Wednesday, places the government in a potential conflict with the Strasbourg-based court, as all asylum-seekers have the right to appeal under Rule 39. But Mr Burt, speaking on a visit to Iraq, said it was the government's view that it was no longer a war-torn country. He added that the policy of forcibly deporting Iraqis whose application for asylum had been turned down would continue.
Yet Foreign Office Travel Advice for Iraq
includes informtion that says (see below) "if your presence in Iraq is essential, you should have adequate and continuous professional close security arrangements.
Still current at: 23 November 2010 Updated: 10 November 2010
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to Safety and Security - Terrorism/Security (incident in Baghdad on 31 October). The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to specific parts of Iraq, including Baghdad. We advise against all but essential travel to other specific parts of Iraq. (see travel advice legal disclaimer)
SUMMARY We advise against all travel to Baghdad and its surrounding area, and to the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Al Anbar, Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Wasit, Babil, Ninawa and At-Tamim (At-Tamim is often referred to as "Kirkuk Province"). We advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Al Qadisiyah, Muthanna, Najaf, Karbala, and Dhi Qar.
See Safety and Security - Terrorism . Although there has been a decrease in the level of violence throughout Iraq the situation remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country (except in the Kurdistan Region). This includes violence and kidnapping targeting foreign nationals (including individuals of non-western appearance). You should seek professional security advice and make arrangements for your security throughout your visit. Even if working with dedicated protection teams you should exercise extreme caution.
The risk of terrorism in the Kurdistan Regional Government controlled provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah (not including Kirkuk) is markedly and statistically lower than in other parts of Iraq. You should seek advice before travelling to the remote border areas with Turkey and Iran where there have been incidents of shelling.
See Safety and Security - Terrorism - Kurdistan Region . Curfews can be and are imposed at short notice, often around religious holidays. When in place curfew times must be strictly adhered to and large gatherings should be avoided. See the Safety and Security - Terrorism - Curfews .
23 British nationals required consular assistance in Iraq in the period 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2010. See General - Consular Assistance Statistics. The British Embassy in Baghdad is able to offer only limited consular assistance. The British Embassy Offices in Basra and Erbil are able to offer limited consular assistance, in the event of an emergency. You should register your presence with LOCATE . You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See the General - Insurance .
SAFETY AND SECURITY Safety and Security - Terrorism There is a high threat of terrorism throughout Iraq. We advise against all travel to Baghdad and the surrounding area, the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Al Anbar, Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Wasit, Babil, Ninawa, and At-Tamim (At-Tamim is often referred to as "Kirkuk Province"). We advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Al Qadisiyah, Muthanna, Najaf, Karbala, and Dhi Qar. Although there has been a decrease in the level of violence throughout Iraq the situation remains highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country.
Attacks in Baghdad in April 2010 took place at a number of locations including diplomatic premises, Government of Iraq institutions, religious sites and civilian areas. Although Baghdad continues to be the focus of such violence, terrorists and insurgents maintain the ability to conduct attacks across Iraq, as seen during the election period On 10 May 2010 there were coordinated attacks (bombings and shootings) across the country from Mosul in Northern Iraq to Basra in Southern Iraq including at factory in Al Hillah, two markets in Basra and a mosque in Al-Suwayrah with 16 attacks in Baghdad. The attacks targeted the Iraqi Security Forces and civilian areas killing approximately 100 and injuring over 300 people. On 20 June 2010 there were two suicide car bomb attacks in Baghdad killing approximately 25 and injuring over 50 people. A suicide attack in South West Baghdad on 18 July 2010 killed approximately 45 people and injured over 30. On 31 October 2010 there was an attack on a Church in the Karrada district of Baghdad in which more than 50 people were killed. Two days later a series of bombs exploded across Baghdad killing over 40 and injuring approximately 350. See our Terrorism abroad page. Safety and Security - Targets Terrorists, insurgents and criminals conduct frequent and widespread lethal attacks on a wide range of targets in Iraq (except in the Kurdistan Region). British and western organisations, non-governmental organisations and contractors working – or perceived to be working - in support of them (particularly those who live and work outside of military protected bases or the International Zone in Baghdad) are at high risk of attack, as are commercial, aviation and maritime infrastructure targets as well as Iraqi Government and other related political and security facilities. On 19 July a British national was killed in a roadside improvised explosive device attack on a British private security company convoy in Mosul. There have been attacks on the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN, journalists, foreign contractors and visitors to Iraq. There were major bomb attacks against Government of Iraq institutions in August, October and December 2009. There have also been attacks within Baghdad's International (or Green) Zone. Indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets also occur. Targets have included places such as hotels, restaurants where westerners congregate. In January 2010 there were major bomb attacks against a number of hotels in Baghdad that are popular with British and western organisations. Terrorists and insurgents continue to attack mosques, large gatherings, churches, army recruiting centres, public transport, police stations, government buildings and party political offices. Ceremonies to mark Islamic and Christian festivals have been targeted, including near churches or holy areas. Rocket and mortar attacks occur sporadically in Baghdad (including the International Zone) and Basra. Civilian and military aircraft arriving in and departing from Baghdad International Airport and flying to other major cities in Iraq have been subjected to attack by small arms and missiles. The standard of security at Baghdad International Airport’s civilian terminal has improved. However, there are still concerns and you should exercise caution if using the civilian terminal. Methods of attack include shootings, bombings, suicide bombs, vehicle bombs, rockets and mortars.
Safety and Security - Kidnap There remains a high threat of kidnapping across Iraq and caution should be exercised throughout the country. Five British nationals were abducted from eastern Baghdad on 29 May 2007 and one from Basra on 10 February 2008. Individuals have been kidnapped at their residence, work and in transit. Kidnappers do not discriminate on the basis of nationality, religion, gender, age or profession. Large numbers of people, including British nationals, have been kidnapped in Iraq, of which a number resulted in the death of hostages. Be aware that further kidnaps might be planned. The motives of hostage takers vary from political to profit. The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The provision of close security protection is extremely important for those working in and moving around Iraq. But this in itself does not remove the threat – a number of those who have been kidnapped include individuals who had security arrangements in place. British nationals, including those working for private security companies, are advised to reassess security arrangements and consider carefully when planning movements throughout Iraq, especially when moving outside the International Zone in Baghdad.
Safety and Security - The Kurdistan Region The three provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah form the Kurdistan Region and are administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government which, under the 2005 constitution, has considerable powers of autonomy within a federal Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government administered area has significantly greater stability, compared with the rest of Iraq. However, despite largely effective policies countering terrorism in the region, extremist Islamist terrorist groups including Al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar al Islam have planned and carried out infrequent attacks in the past. A network of Iran-based Kurdish extremists, affiliated with Al-Qaida in Iraq mount occasional cross-border attacks. The threat of terrorism and kidnap remains. Terrorist operations, including in the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, have generally been conducted against Kurdistan Regional Government targets. On 10 March 2008 a suicide vehicle bomb exploded outside Sulaymaniyah Palace Hotel. On 9 May 2007 a suicide vehicle bomb exploded outside the Ministry of Interior in Erbil. This was the first attack of its kind in Erbil in two years. In 2009 and 2010 a number of vehicle born explosive devices were intercepted on their way to Kurdistan by KRG border security police Shelling in the border areas with Turkey and Iran in the Kurdistan Region still occurs. You should seek advice on the situation in these remote border areas before travelling there. Safety and Security - Northern Iraq (Outside Kurdistan Region) Outside the Kurdistan Region, the security situation in northern Iraq remains highly dangerous and volatile. In Kirkuk and Mosul there are still frequent terrorist attacks, including suicide bomb attacks, vehicle bombs and shootings, which have led to many innocent bystanders being killed. There are also frequent kidnappings, which often result in the deaths of the victims. On 2 May 2010 a vehicle bomb in eastern Mosul targeting Christian students resulted in one death and 33 people injured. On 14 May 2010, a complex vehicle bomb and suicide vest attack targeted a football game in Tal Afar, killed 8 and left 128 wounded. Terrorists and insurgents remain active within Kirkuk and IED attacks targeting both Iraqi Security Forces and the local population occur frequently. The threat to high profile individuals in the region also exists with a number of prominent Iraqis killed in Mosul over recent months including businessmen and civic personalities. On 24 May 2010, an MP was assassinated in Mosul.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS Local laws reflect the fact that Iraq is a predominantly Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See our Your trip page.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS British nationals must have a visa before travelling to Iraq. You can apply for a visa at Iraqi missions overseas, including the Iraqi Embassy in London. See the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. For British nationals travelling only to Kurdistan Region, a visa may be obtained on arrival. Ensure that you have the appropriate documentation for entering Iraq. This includes, but is not limited to, a valid visa, in-date Weapon Authority Cards (WAC) (if carrying weapons), registration documentation from the Ministry of the Interior and/or military ID if using military routes. The Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) has made a number of arrests, including British nationals, for failure to provide the appropriate documentation when requested. For more details on what documentation you need you should see the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs website or contact the Iraqi Embassy in London.
HEALTH Limited medical facilities are available. In the event of serious accident or illness, an evacuation by air ambulance may be required. Malaria is common in some rural areas in the north and in Basra province in the south. In 2008 twelve out of the eighteen provinces across Iraq had outbreaks of cholera. As a precaution you should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Iraq seek immediate medical attention. If you are travelling to Jordan you may be asked to either prove you have been vaccinated against cholera or you may be required to take antibiotics. The temperature in summer months can exceed 50 ºC (122ºF) and drop as low as 10ºC (50ºF), which can result in dehydration and serious health problems. Drink plenty of water. Weather conditions are arduous. You should exercise precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page. You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. NHS Direct (0845 46 47) can provide you with advice on the vaccination requirements for Iraq. For further information on endemic diseases, like malaria, health outbreaks and vaccination requirements for Iraq you should check the websites of NaTHNaC or NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel. See our Travel health page.