Kirkuk governorate profile, August 2015
Situated in northern Iraq, with a total population of 902,019 (excluding Syrian refugees and IDPs), Kirkuk is the centre of the northern Iraqi petroleum industry and thus of great strategic and economic importance to the Baghdad Central Government.
During Saddam Hussein’s rule, Kirkuk was subjected to the “Arabization” campaign that evicted many Kurds and provided incentives for Arabs from the South to settle there, aiming to give the Ba’athist government control over the rich oil resources. Equally due to this importance, Kirkuk’s administrative status is disputed by the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Government. The conﬂict that broke out in Decem- ber 2013 has already displaced over 410,000 IDP individuals to or within Kirkuk. More than 97,000 IDPs across Iraq originate from this governorate.
The security situation in Kirkuk remains tense as heavy clashes between armed groups and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continue, causing more Iraqis to ﬂee. As ISF have reclaimed control over areas of Kirkuk, IOM staff reported return movement to the southern and western parts of the governorate.