Iraqi authorities have announced that heightened security measures will be implemented nationwide ahead of the annual Arba'een pilgrimage, scheduled to take place from Wednesday, October 7 to Thursday, October 8. Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the event is expected to be smaller than in previous years. There will be no restrictions on the number of Iraqi pilgrims taking part in the event, however, a maximum of 1500 foreign pilgrims per country will be permitted to participate. Foreign pilgrims will only be able to enter Iraq via Baghdad International Airport (BGW) or Najaf International Airport (NJF).
Karbala is expected to hold the largest gathering for the pilgrimage and a commensurate security presence will be in place during the event.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings due to potential violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in areas affected by the event, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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