European Asylum Support Office: Iraq report

Building off their influential work on the Iraq Body Count Project, researchers from BCU compiled a supplementary report for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which detailed the number of violent civillian deaths in Iraq. This report informs the EASO's report on the situation in Iraq, which aims to monitor and support the protection of Iraqi asylum seekers in the EU.

Asylum seeker EASO project large


Research background

EASO is an agency of the European Union. In the field of Country of Origin Information (COI), EASO gathers reliable country of origin information, establishes Specialist COI Networks composed of  experts on key countries of origin at EU level. Utilising these specialists, the EASO drafts joint COI reports which aim to address iand monitor issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees in the EU.

The BCU team's report is a supplement to the EASO report, Iraq: Security situation (2018), which aims to provide information on the security situation that is relevant for international protection status determination, including refugee status and subsidiary protection.  The assessment of international protection needs and subsidiary protection under Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive (QD) takes into account the following:

  • A real risk of serious harm;
  • An internal or international armed conflict;
  • Indiscriminate violence;
  • the term ‘civilian; and
  • a serious and individual threat to life.

Those key elements can be broken down into topics and indicators to assist in the assessment of protection needs. Examples of indicators and topics include: parties to the conflict; intensity and level of violence; nature of the violence; regional spread of the violence; targets of violence; risk of collateral damage; types and methods/tactics and weapons used; security on roads; and indirect effects of violence/conflict. The security situation report provides qualitative COI about conflict dynamics, main armed groups/conflict actors, security/political developments, civilian impacts as well as additional information about security trends, incidents, and casualties, including governorate-level chapters.

Data on civilian deaths in Iraq

Iraq Body Count’s (IBC’s) publicly available, and fully analysed/processed database contains information from 2003 to March 2017. In an effort to secure reliable and updated information about the security situation in Iraq, including the impact of violence on civilians in terms of deaths/incidents, EASO worked together with IBC to secure a preliminary analysis of the data held by IBC on security incidents leading to civilian deaths and civilians killed during 2017-2018. This report contains preliminary data from IBC’s database from 2017 and 2018, complemented with 2012 data, the year with a comparative level of violence to 2018, just before the 2014-2017 spike due to the violence created by conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In consultation with EASO, IBC and EASO developed the parameters of what the IBC’s preliminary analysis would include in order to provider target users of the security situation report with a sense of the overall trends in country-wide and governorate level incidents leading to civilian deaths, as well as civilian death counts from the country, to governorate, down to district-level.

Research aims

Country of Origin Information refers to information on countries from which asylum seekers originate relevant for decision-makers in the field of asylum. The quality and accuracy of COI can thus play a determining role in achieving the aim of the Common European Asylum System that similar cases should receive similar outcomes across the EU.

The eventual goal is that of developing an empirical model for the analysis and, if possible, prognosis of asylum-related migration at EU level. This includes:

  • Identifying the most relevant determining factors and testing its potential in forecasting the migration pressure on the European asylum system and;
  • gaining insight into migration movements.

EASO contributes to the development of the Common European Asylum System by:

  • facilitating, coordinating and strengthening practical cooperation among Member States on the many aspects of asylum;
  • helping Member States fulfill their European and international obligations to give protection to people in need; provides practical and technical support to Member States and the European Commission;
  • provides operational support to Member States with specific needs and to Member States whose asylum and reception systems are under particular pressure and;
  • provides evidence-based input for EU policymaking and legislation in all areas having a direct or indirect impact on asylum.

The Office was conceived to play a crucial role in ensuring practical cooperation between Member States on matters related to asylum.

Research methods

Daily collection of reports, extraction and analysis of data and trends, writing of COI reports on Iraq. This is linked to the work Dr Lily Hamourtziadou does for the Iraq Body Count project, of which she has been principal researcher and analyst since 2006. Hamit Dardagan and Joshua Doherty are also IBC researchers.

Outcomes and impact

The impact is the now annual inclusion of these reports on Iraq by EASO, prepared and provided by IBC researchers (at least for the next 4 years), assisting in assessing protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers, and helping to provide support to member states that are receiving refugees.