2.19. Persons involved in and affected by blood feuds in the context of tribal conflict

Last updated: June 2019

This profile refers to individuals who are involved in and affected by blood feuds in the context of tribal conflicts.

COI summary

[Targeting, 3.6.1; Actors of protection, 6.6]

Blood feuds are conflicts between tribes involving cycles of retaliatory killings. Intertribal killings may be triggered by a number of reasons, including honour-related questions and historic intertribal animosities. It has been reported that the current instability has increased the onset of tribal conflicts, particularly in southern Iraq.

Killing members of another tribe will put a target on the perpetrator, as well as his tribe. In order to avoid continuous cycles of revenge killings among tribes, tribal conflict is often settled by paying compensation in the form of ‘blood money’. The ultimate goal of tribal mediation is to restore peace through restoring honour, thus avoiding feuds. Conflict resolution between different ethnic or religious tribes, such as a Shia tribe and a Sunni tribe, is usually considered more difficult.

Particularly in the southern governorates, women and children may also be traded to settle tribal disputes through the traditional practice of fasliya. Women who enter fasliya marriages are stripped from all of their rights, even the right to divorce or separate from their husband. See the profiles Women and Children.

Due to the societal importance of tribal custom, powerful tribal affiliation can interfere with the police in upholding respect for the law. Judicial authorities do not follow up on tribal incidents and judges must seek tribal protection themselves in case of threats against them.

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. killing).

Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: intensity of the blood feud, possibility of conflict resolution, ethnicity and religion of the tribes, social status of the tribes, area of origin (area where the rule of law is weak, urban or rural area), etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of race (descent, referring to members of a tribe).

 Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see the chapter on Exclusion).


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