UN Migration Agency Publishes Assessment on Displacement and Returns in Iraq   31 Jan, 2018 

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, released a new study, which shows that 90 per cent of displaced Iraqis are determined to return home. This is similar to the long-term intentions recorded in 2016. 

More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to their places of origin so far in 2017. In total since the start of the crisis in 2014, IOM estimates that more than 2.8 million displaced Iraqis have returned, while more than 2.9 million people remain displaced. 

The IOM study, Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) analyzes both displacement and return movements of conflict-affected people across Iraq. Approximately 2.1 million displaced persons and more than 1.6 million returnees, based in 3,583 locations across Iraq, have been covered in the assessment, which was carried out between March and May 2017.  

Only in Basrah and Najaf did families report that they consider integrating into the local community, where they are displaced.  

According to the findings, Anbar was the single governorate where most returns took place in both 2016 and 2017, followed by Ninewa in 2017.  

Among the main findings, this study identifies that residential and infrastructure damage is widespread. Nearly one third of returnees are reported to have returned to houses that have suffered significant damage, and 60 per cent to moderately damaged residences. Regarding infrastructure, most damage appears to affect roads, followed by the public power grid and water networks.  

The share of displaced Iraqis who have settled in critical shelters and returnees unable to return to their habitual residence seems to have slightly increased compared to 2016. This might be related to the lack of legal documentation for houses, land and property which was reported among the top three challenges in nearly one out of four locations. 

Difficulties in returning to the habitual residence may also be related to the fact that in some cases, those who remain in displacement are among the poorest and most vulnerable families, strained by long years on the move. In locations where there are female-headed households, and particularly households headed by minor females, “lack of money” is consistently among the top three obstacles to return. 

Long-term concerns over economic security persist with 80 per cent of displaced people and 63 per cent of returnees cited access to employment as one of their top three needs.  

However, the main obstacle to return reported by the displaced population remained lack of security in the place or origin, whether due to ongoing conflict, presence of UXO, landmines and militias.   

The ILA Part I: Thematic Overview, the ILA Part II: Governorate Profiles and Questionnaire can be downloaded on the DTM ILA II portal page.