ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The new Iraqi Minister of Displacement and Migration Nawfal Moussa said on Saturday that his ministry is working to secure a “dignified return” for those displaced within Iraq and that it would reject the forced repatriation of those abroad who do not wish to return.
Moussa made the remarks in a statement issued by his press office during the start of his new official post on Saturday, calling for “completing the Iraqi victory [against the Islamic State] by helping the displaced families to return to their hometowns.”
The war against the Islamic State since mid-2014 had displaced six million Iraqis – around 15 percent of the entire population of the country.
Iraq declared victory against the jihadist group in Dec. 2017, but its fighters continue to carry out insurgent attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings in several areas across the country.
Now, around two million people remain displaced inside Iraq's borders who refuse or are unable to return to their areas due to insecurity and a lack of basic services and infrastructure, damaged by the war against the Islamic State.
Nowadays, the Kurdistan Region continues to remain a safe haven for 1.4 million of Iraq's internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Syrian refugees.
In February 2018, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration announced the return of 2.5 million IDPs to their hometowns, which desperately need money to rehabilitate their destroyed infrastructure.
Over the past two years, Baghdad has sought to send back IDPs to their liberated areas. Some international human rights organizations have accused the Iraqi federal government of forcefully pushing IDPs to return their areas, potentially endangering their lives in insecure regions.
In a meeting with ministry staff on Saturday, Moussa stated that they will work and cooperate with relevant authorities to secure a “dignified return” of remaining IDPs to their homes.
Although the Islamic State had been militarily defeated in the country, many IDPs are unsure of returning to their hometowns due to occasional IS attacks and the presence of Shia militias supported by the federal government in those territories.
The Iraqi Minister also stressed the need to “expedite the provision of the IDPs’ urgent requirements,” including so-called "white oil" for those currently living in camps as a source of heating energy during the cold winter months.
Regarding the Iraqi refugees who are now abroad, the minister stated that he is against their forceful return from host countries to Iraq, as his predecessor was and as is official national policy.
Editing by John J. Catherine