ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations (UN) and the Iraqi government announced joint plans for the voluntary return of up to 2 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to areas they fled from after the 2013 rise of the Islamic State (IS).
In a statement, released on Tuesday, the UN called for "all efforts" to be made to support the transition of IDPs and warned that approximately 8.7 million people, nearly half of them children, will require some form of humanitarian assistance this year.
“As people return to their areas of origin with a large number of camps in Iraq becoming consolidated or decommissioned during the course of this year, many will need assistance including those who are returning as well as those who are unable to," said Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
Balakrishnan, however, cautioned against returning families without proper support or against their will, adding that "continued advocacy by the humanitarian community against involuntary or premature returns and strengthening mechanisms with the government authorities for supporting voluntary and safe returns is a key component,” of the 2018 plan.
Since the military defeat of IS in 2017, about 3.5 million Iraqis have returned to their areas of origin, with well over two million still displaced.
The newly-announced plan focuses on supporting returning families with one-off emergency cash assistance, in addition to other support programs.
In the statement, Dr. Mahdi Al-Alaq, Secretary-General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, also "affirmed the government's keenness to return the displaced people voluntarily, while ensuring the provision of basic services."