The International Organization for Migration (IOM) the main group working with the Iraqi government and United Nations on displacement found that the number of returns has slowed in 2018.
A total of 3,829,758 displaced people have made the trip home by the end of May 2018. In that month alone, 119,070 went back. Ninewa had the largest number of returns with 1,416,804. Most of those have gone to Mosul, Tal Afar and Hamdaniya. After that Anbar, 1,254,654, and Salahaddin 534,000, have received the most people. Those numbers are going down this year however. At the end of 2017 over 200,000 people were making the trip back every month. That rate has been cut in half this year.
At the end of 2017 roughly 90% of displaced (IDPs) said they wanted to go home. That has now declined to 60%. The main reason that number has gone down is due to the destruction of homes and property, the lack of jobs, security, and the need to resolve local issues. In Anbar for example, Human Rights Watch reported that twice people were turned back from trying to go back to their homes in Baghdadi because they were accused of being Islamic State sympathizers. In Sinjar, in west Ninewa, almost the entire Arab population has said they were afraid to return because they feared retribution by Yazidis who blamed them for supporting the insurgency. Most of the Yazidi population were still IDPs as well because there is still had unexploded ordinance and many of their homes were destroyed. These issues can be seen in other provinces across northern and central Iraq.
In 2017 IOM warned that a large number of IDPs may never go home. These latest reports and others are confirming the group’s fears. There has been no effort at reconciliation, and the government has been slow to rebuild destroyed areas. A large population is also being banned from returning due to their ties to the Islamic State. After the 2005-08 civil war over 1 million people never returned. The same thing is likely to happen this time around if these trends continue.
Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Displaced Families Blocked from Returning,” 6/24/18
International Organization for Migration, “Iraq: Displacement Tracking Matrix – Returns Dashboard, May 2018,” 5/31/18
- “Returns Continue While Obstacles to Return Remain in Ira: IOM,” 6/26/18