1.35 million Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) returned to their homes in 2019, Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displaced announced on Wednesday.
In a statement by Ali Abbas, the head of the Ministry’s branches, “more than one million and 350 thousand IDPs”, equaling roughly 240,140 families, have “returned from IDP camps in the provinces of the country to their original homes”.
Anbar province received the most returnees, with 89,224 families returning to districts across the province, the statement said.
Saladin came second, with a total of 61,055 family returnees, and Nineveh Province with 44,383 returnees.
According to a November 2019 report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1.5 million Iraqis, of the original 6 million who were displaced from 2014 to 2017 due to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), remain in camps.
“Of the six million people displaced during the 2014-2017 conflict, humanitarian partners estimate that 4.1 million require some form of humanitarian assistance and that 1.77 million are in acute need. Of the people in acute need, 50 per cent reside in two governorates – Nineveh and Al-Anbar,” said OCHA.
Many of the provinces, mainly Sunni provinces in northern and central Iraq, have not been able to secure enough funds to rebuild. According to the deputy governor of Saladin Saad Dhahir Qaisi, the Iraqi government is out of touch with the situation and approaches the destroyed areas “as if they were intact”.
Due to unemployment, lingering destruction and insecurity, there have been instances of IDPs returning to IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region. More than 6,000 of Mosul’s IDPs had returned to camps as of August.
Among other issues afflicting the return of IDPs is corruption. In April, Iraqi Integrity Commission retrieved $64 million of embezzled funds from Nineveh’s coffers.
Security is another obstacle to returning home, with ISIS remaining active across Nineveh and other provinces. Militias competing for control in the disputed territories has also left civilians caught in the crossfire.
In July 2019, Yezidi activist Nadia Murad told US President Donald Trump of the obstacles facing the Yezidi community returning to Shingal, which is disputed between various militias as well as the Iraqi and Kurdish armed forces.
The Yezidi community was attacked by the Islamic State in August 2014, and hundreds of thousands remain in camps across the Kurdistan Region.
“Now there is no ISIS, but we cannot go back because the Kurdish government and the Iraqi government, they are fighting each other [over] who will control my area,” Murad told the US President.