ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) on Thursday announced the return of another 78 refugees from Turkey as part of an ongoing plan to repatriate those displaced after the Islamic State spread across much of the nation in 2014.
The ministry also added that the transfer of “the refugees was carried out in coordination with the Ministry of Transportation and our offices in Turkey and the Kurdistan Region, traveling through the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing in the Zakho district of Duhok province, from where they were sent back to their places of origin.”
The refugees had been residing in Turkey’s provinces of Ankara, Çorum, and Samsun.
Current efforts to repatriate Iraqis, which Iraq repeatedly stresses is being done purely on a voluntary basis, have been ongoing for over a year. Baghdad encourages Iraqi citizens to return to areas previously occupied by the Islamic State.
Following the emergence of the jihadist group and its expansion in 2014, six million Iraqis were internally displaced, with thousands fleeing to neighboring and western countries.
Since the beginning of 2019, the federal government in Baghdad has facilitated the resettlement of large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas of origin.
Iraqi officials have repeatedly been accused of blocking some populations from their homes while forcing others into areas to which they were afraid, or otherwise unwilling, to return.
Thousands of refugees and IDPs continue to resist returning to their towns due to serious security concerns and a lack of infrastructure and basic government services.
The MoMD, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other Iraqi governmental bodies have a longstanding policy to refuse the non-voluntary return of Iraqi nationals from abroad.
Editing by John J. Catherine