Sunday, February 26, 2023

Over 1 Mil Displaced In Iraq And Unlikely To Go Home

(Middle East Institute)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the premier group that works with the Iraqi government to help the displaced (IDPs). Its latest report which covers the winter of 2022 shows that returns of Iraq’s internal refugees has almost ceased. This is a repeat of the civil war period in Iraq when around one million IDPs never went home.

 

The IOM reported that there were 1,168,619 displaced in Iraq in December 2022. In comparison 4,989,852 people had returned home.

 

From October-December 2022 11,178 people went home. That averaged to 3,726 IDPs returning per month. That compared to an average of 10,125 per month in 2021, 19,539 per month in 2020, 35,927 per month in 2019 and 78,746 per month in 2018.

 

The year after the war with the Islamic State ended saw the most returns with 944,958 in 2018. That was cut in half the next year to 431,130 and cut in half again in 2020 to 235,116.

 

As the IOM pointed out there are many barriers to IDPS going home. That includes fears of the Islamic State, destruction of homes and the Hashd and Iraqi Security Forces blocking people going back. The last two appear to be the most important. The Sinjar district in Ninewa for instance is controlled by multiple militias which have blocked the majority of people returning. Additionally, the area has not been rebuilt and government aid has been sparse. The entire population of Babil’s Jurf al-Sakhr district was forced out by the Hashd after it was liberated and none have been allowed back since then. Finally, there are Islamic State families who are also banned.

 

After the civil war ended in 2009 Iraq went through a similar experience. Over one million people remained displaced because the demographics of Baghdad and the surrounding areas had been changed. Militias and the government wanted to maintain the new status quo keeping people out of their homes.

 

Last is the Iraqi government’s incompetence and dysfunction. It has never allotted enough money to help IDPs and the ruling elite are not interesting in actually governing. They do not respond to the public and are only interested in maintaining their power and robbing from the state.

 

Avg 78,746 returns per month 2018

Avg 35,927 returns per month 2019

Avg 19,593 returns per month 2020

Avg 10,125 returns per month 2021

Avg 3,726 returns per month Oct-Dec 2022

 

Provinces With Most Displaced Living There

Province

Dec 2022

Dohuk

248,596

Ninewa

248,039

Irbil

231,675

Sulaymaniya

137,868

Kirkuk

92,610

Salahaddin

51,642

Diyala

44,324

Anbar

35,436

Anbar

35,436

 

SOURCES

 

Agence France Presse, “’Conflict, destruction’ prevent return to Iraq’s Yazidi heartland: Report,” 5/18/22

 

Ali, Sura, “Iraq ministry suggests displaced families relocate if homes insecure,” Rudaw, 4/23/21

 

Bas News, “Militia Groups in Sinjar Continue to Impede Return of IDPs: Official,” 2/4/23

 

International Organization for Migration, “Iraq Master List Report 128,” 2/20/23

 

Al Mada, “The return of the displaced from Jurf al-Sakhr awaits the political decision and coordination with the factions,” 5/12/22

 

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