Millions of Iraqis have been forced to leave their homes over the past 4 years as a result of ISIS expansion and the military battles that have been launched to counter and eliminate the terrorist group from Iraq.
Initially, the issue of displacement was connected to the establishment of IDP (internally displaced people) camps throughout the various provinces of Iraq in order to accommodate those who were displaced. However, since the liberation of formerly ISIS-held areas of the country, the focus has been on the return of those stranded in IDP camps to their former homes.
The latest statistics released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organisation linked to the United Nations, shows that approximately 3.2 million displaced Iraqis have now returned to their home towns while 2.6 million remain in IDP camps or other towns and villages in the country.
The IOM broke down the statistics according to the number of returnees per province: 1.2 million have returned to their homes in Anbar, 975,000 to Nineveh and 460,000 to Salahuddin. These provinces, as well as Kirkuk, were the hardest hit by the clashes that ensued between the terrorist group and the Iraqi Army. The abovementioned provinces contained the most prominent ISIS strongholds in the whole of Iraq.
Those who are still expecting to return to their homes are waiting for the stabilisation of the security situation in their areas. This includes a broad definition of “security” as it may entail some or all of the following: ISIS sleeper cells, mines left behind by ISIS, damaged infrastructure, a lack of services, and a shortage of food and water resources.
Although the number of returnees is now higher than the number of displaced people in the country, those who have returned are struggling to reconstruct their homes and find their livelihood due to the dire state of the economy. Thousands are relying on themselves to rebuild their homes, in addition to the burden of finding the resources with which to buy food and medicine.