ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that access to employment was the main concern for those displaced within Iraq in a new report released on Wednesday.
Of those who remain displaced, it says, 48 percent are now hosted within their own provinces, 35 percent in the Kurdistan Region, 14 percent in other north-central provinces, and 3 percent in southern provinces - nearly all of these in Najaf.
Over half of current IDPs have been in displacement for more than 3 years.
"Access to employment/livelihood opportunities continues to be the main concern of IDPs in nearly all locations – and more so compared to last year, read the new Integrated Location Assessment. "In fact, it was cited among top 3 concerns in locations where 93% of IDPs are currently hosted – it was 63% in May 2017.
The report covers 4,177 locations, reaching approximately 1,491,792 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 3,585,210 returnees across Iraq.
Decreases in IDP populations are recorded across nearly all Iraqi governorates hosting IDPs, particularly in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Salahuddin. The Kurdistan Region's province of Sulaimani was the one exception to the falling numbers.
After declaring the military defeat of IS late last year following a devastating three-year war, the Iraqi government is seeking to facilitate the return of displaced civilians, many of whom have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has borne the brunt of the influx of millions of refugees and displaced persons, often relying on its own finances to provide shelter and other basic needs for them. One in four current residents of the Kurdistan Region is either an internally displaced person (IDP) or a refugee.
International organizations have hinted that Baghdad is guilty of forcibly returning many of the displaced persons to their homes, potentially endangering their lives in their unsafe areas. The Iraqi government continues to deny this claim.
The report reads, "IDPs are mainly re-settling in the South by virtue of its safety and the presence of extended family and friends, whereas staying in north-central governorates is mostly involuntary – families have lost everything at home or have no means to return."
Safety, services, and job opportunities, it continues, "are the most important reasons" to relocate to the Kurdistan Region.
IOM has more than 1,400 staff members based in Baghdad, Erbil, Basra and various other cities in the country who are, as the organization writes, are "dedicated to improving the conditions of the displaced and to working with local host communities."