Half of Iraqi Refugees Return Home

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A displaced Iraqi man who fled from clashes, carries children in western Mosul, Iraq, June 3, 2017. (Reuters)
Baghdad – Asharq Al-Awsat
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Saturday that nearly half of the Iraqis, who were displaced by the battle against ISIS, have returned home.

It said in a report released earlier this week that the number of people who have returned home since the beginning of the crisis in November 2014 has reached 2.27 million. Some 2.88 million remain displaced.

IOM spokeswoman Sandra Black told Agence France Presse that this was the first time that the number of people returning is equal to the number still displaced.

Should the return rate continue like this, then the number of returnees will exceed the number of the displaced, she added.

ISIS had seized large swathes of Iraqi territory in an offensive in mid 2014. Iraqi forces managed over the past three years to recapture much of the land.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced last week his country’s victory over the terrorist organization.

IOM said that the majority of the returnees were recorded in the Anbar and Ninevh provinces.

Most of them reported that their houses were severely damaged in the battles. Some 60 percent reported moderate damage, it revealed.

Locals who do not have property documents have faced the greatest difficulties in returning to their homes.

The main obstacles hindering the return of the displaced are lingering skirmishes and unexploded mines.

The majority who have returned are from the Sunni and Kurdish populations, not Sunni Turkmen, Shi’ites, Yazidis, Christians and the Shabak people.