Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Returns of Displaced In Iraq Continue To Decline Despite Govt Efforts

The rate of return for Iraq’s displaced (IDPs) has taken another major drop in the spring of 2020. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) the pre-eminent group working with IDPs blamed the COVID-19 lockdown which has limited movement in the country. Even before that however fewer and fewer people were attempting to go home because of the lack of reconstruction, security, reconciliation, and jobs. In fact, some new displacement in small numbers continues as well because of those issues.

In June, IOM reported that there were 1,381,332 displaced in Iraq. That was down only 17,838 people from February. In 2020, there has been an average of 5,550 IDPs going back each month versus 32,350 per month in 2019 and 67,763 per month in 2018. There are simply fewer and fewer reasons for IDPs to go back. Many postwar areas for instance are still not rebuilt. There are few jobs, and in some areas like central and northeast Diyala the Islamic State is driving people out to control rural areas. Many people that were the first to be displaced when the war against the Islamic State started in 2014 have also settled in the provinces they moved into. Finally, families affiliated with the Islamic State have been banned from many areas. A parliamentarian from Salahaddin for instance, said in July that IS families that had not repented would not allowed back to the province.

 

These issues haven’t stopped the government from consistently saying it wants to close the displaced file. In June Prime Minister Mustafa Kazemi issued an order to help IDPs returned, and in July the Displacement Minister said he wanted the issue to be over. The authorities have begun closing some camps as a result. This comes with little to no support. The government for instance has no rebuilding program for the postwar areas. It’s also in the middle of the worst economic crisis since 2003 so it has no money even if wanted to take part in reconstruction.

 

The result is that the majority of the 1.3 million IDPs are likely to remain where they are for good. That’s the same thing that happened after the civil war when one million displaced and another one million refugees never returned because Baghdad had nothing to offer them.


Total Number of Displaced Oct 2017-February 2020 

Month 

Total Displaced 

Difference 

October 2017 

3,174,678 


November 2017 

2,883,738 

-290,940 

December 2017 

2,615,988 

-267,750 

February 2018 

2,317,698 

-298,290 

(2 months) 

March 2018 

2,205,252 

-112,446 

May 2018 

2,045,718 

-159,534 

(2 months) 

Jul 2018 

1,953,984 

-91,734 

(2 months) 

August 2018 

1,920,456 

-33,528 

October 2018 

1,866,648 

-53,808 

(2 months) 

December 2018 

1,802,832 

-63,816 

(2 months) 

February 2019 

1,744,980 

-57,852 

(2 months) 

April 2019 

1,665,108 

-79,872 

(2 months) 

June 2019 

1,607,148 

-57,960 

(2 months) 

September 2019 

1,552,914 

-54,234 

(3 months) 

December 2019 

1,414,632 

-138,282 

(3 months) 

February 2020 

1,399,170 

-15,462 

(2 months) 

June 2020

1,381,332

-17,838

(4 months)

 

Avg 67,763 returns per month 2018

Avg 32,350 returns per month 2019

Avg 5,550 returns per month 2020

 

Main Provinces With Returns 

Province 

June 2020

Ninewa 

1,807,170

Anbar 

1,503,468

Salahaddin 

692,142

Kirkuk 

341,106

Diyala 

230,244

Baghdad 

90,228

Irbil 

53,004

Dohuk 

768 

 

Location of Displaced By Province 

Province 

Feb 2020 

Ninewa 

324,078

Dohuk 

319,062

Irbil 

236,496

Sulaymaniya 

139,860

Kirkuk 

100,026

Salahaddin 

68,700

Diyala 

53,688

Anbar 

36,162

Baghdad 

35,034

Babil 

17,004

Karbala 

15,558

Najaf 

12,546

Wasit 

6,084

Basra 

6,528

Qadisiya 

3,888

Dhi Qar 

3,396

Maysan 

2,226

Muthanna 

996

 

 

SOURCES

 

Halawa, Hafsa, “The Forgotten Iraq,” Middle East Institute, March 2020

 

International Organization for Migration, “Iraq Master List Report 116, May-June 2020,” July 2020

 

Al Maalomah, “Deputy: The local government in Salahaddin has taken measures to prevent the return of ISIS families to the liberated areas,” 7/14/20

 

Al Mada, “Migration Ministry implements a program for the voluntary return of displaced persons,” 7/2/20

 

Al Mirbad, “A government directive to facilitate the return of IDPs to their areas of origin,” 6/10/20

 

 

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