ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) on Friday announced the return of dozens of refugees from Turkey as part of an ongoing purported “voluntary” repatriation return scheme.
“The ministry has registered the return of 60 Iraqi refugees from Turkey as part of the voluntary repatriation program,” Taleb Asghar Dosa, director-general of the ministry’s immigration department, said in a statement on Friday.
The transfer of the refugees was carried out in coordination with the Ministry of Transportation. Similar to previous batches, the latest returnees had entered the Kurdistan Region through the Ibrahim Khalil border crossing in the Zakho district of Duhok province, from where they purportedly went to their places of origin.
In late October, the MoMD announced the arrival of 317 refugees who had also been living in Ankara, Samsun, and Çorum. A month earlier, the ministry said 155 more Iraqis had returned from Turkey living in the same cities as previously mentioned.
Following the emergence of the so-called Islamic State and its expansion over much of Iraq in 2014, six million Iraqis were displaced, with thousands fleeing abroad to neighboring and western countries.
Many settled in the Kurdistan Region, straining the resources of the Erbil government’s already suffering economy amid budget cuts from the central Iraqi government and reduced revenues from oil sales.
Since the beginning of 2019, the federal government in Baghdad has facilitated the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to settle back into their hometowns.
Baghdad has also 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 nonvoluntary return of Iraqi nationals from abroad.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany