World Refugee Day: Millions of Iraqis remain displaced from their homes

Internally displaced Iraqis and foreign refugees alike are demanding better social protection by the Iraqi government, including official recognition of their refugee status.

Displacement has become a commonplace issue in Syria and Iraq over the past few years, especially as a result of the ascendance and collapse of ISIS in the region, as well as the long and drawn-out civil conflict in Syria. World Refugee Day has brought attention to the state and plight of refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) living in Iraq.

Aladdin Ghazi, a resident of Mosul whose family emigrated to Iraq from Palestine in 1948, was provided with a house by the Iraqi government in the 1980s, when a residential complex was established to house Palestinian refugees in Mosul. He spoke of some of the difficulties he has faced being born into a refugee family:

They cut off aid. I lost my family of seven with my baby girl in an aeroplane incident. I want to have retirement but Palestinians are not allowed any more. One of the judges told my father to bring his identification papers from Palestine. My father came here in 1948 and there were no identification papers at that time”.

After the liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS two years ago by Iraqi forces, the problems of refugees in the city, especially the Syrians, have worsened. They have also been subjected to many complex routine procedures in order to complete identity and residency paperwork. Iraq is known to hold around 300,000 refugees from other country, mostly from neighbouring Syria.

“We demand that the government approve the permanent residence instead of the monthly residence. We are also indignant with regards to the absence of any human rights organisations for Syrian refugees in Iraq”, said Syrian refugee in Iraq, Muhammad Aboush.

Refugees from Iraq in other countries make up even a larger figure, with millions fleeing the country during and after the spread of ISIS, especially particularly vulnerable minorities, such as the Christians and Yazidis.