Religious freedom conditions in Iraq have improved incrementally in key areas, but remain concerning overall. Religious minorities in the Nineveh Plains and Sinjar face major barriers to their safe return in the short term and to their secure, ongoing presence in the long term. More than any other single factor, a lack of security, mainly due to the corrosive presence of the largely Iranian-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)—al-Hashd al-Sha’bi, also known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)—continue to impede progress toward improved religious freedom conditions.

Source: Iraqi Yazidis light candles and paraffin torches during a ceremony to celebrate the Yazidi New Year at Lalish temple in Shekhan District in Duhok, REUTERS / Jalal

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