Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi government has revealed that the number of internally displaced citizens reached five million, 45 percent of which returned back home.
In a speech during a ceremony held by the Migration and Displacement Ministry celebrating victory over Islamic State, Minister Jassem al-Jaff said “the ministry and the supreme committee for the relief of the displaced will resume its support so refugees return back to their regions.”
“Number of the displaced reached up to five million displaced. Almost half of them returned back home,” he added.
“The coming year will be for the return of the displaced,” Jaff said. “The government and politicians visions to hold elections on scheduled time will not take place without the swift return of the displaced.”
Thousands of families left their homes after IS controlled large areas of the country in 2014. The displacement rate increased as military operations were launched to retake the cities occupies by the militant group.
In late November, Ministry under-secretary, Jassem al-Attiya, denied reports that it has forced refugees to return to their home areas in regions recaptured from IS. He indicated committment to the federal government’s decision which prevents the forced repatriation of refugees.
This came after the U.S. embassy in Iraq and the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights had warned the Iraqi government against forcing refugees to return home in Anbar and other regions.
Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary troops, have been fighting since October 2016 to retake territories Islamic State had occupied.