Baghdad rejects efforts by European nations to forcibly deport Iraqi refugees

Recent reports by Iraqi media outlined how the European Commission was looking into repatriating Iraqis.
author_image Nadia Riva

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi government is opposed to efforts by European nations to forcibly return refugees and asylum seekers to the country, according to Iraqi officials.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Iraqi Deputy Minister of Migration and Displaced Jasser al-Attiyya said Baghdad refuses the forced return of Iraqi immigrants.  

“The Iraqi government rejects forced returns, as we have understandings with some European countries concerning how necessary it is not to take any measures concerning forced returns.”

“At the beginning of 2017, a conference on immigrants was held in Finland where we refused any forced returns of Iraqi immigrants,” Attiyya said.

Recent reports by Iraqi media outlined how the European Commission was looking into repatriating Iraqis.

A Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament and head of the parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, Abdul Bari Zebari, earlier this month also warned that the European Union intended to forcibly return Iraqi immigrants whose asylum requests had been rejected back to Iraq.

The European Commission believes that stability has been restored to Iraq since its liberation from the Islamic State (IS) and suggested that Iraqi whose asylum requests were rejected or who illegally reached Europe should return to Iraq.

Zebari called on the Iraqi government not to accept offers from European nations to forcibly send Iraqi and Kurdish migrants back, despite the territorial defeat of IS.   

While reiterating the Iraqi government’s refusal to force Iraqis to return, Minister of Migration and Displaced Persons, Jassim Mohammed al-Jaff stressed the importance of people voluntarily returning to Iraq from Europe. Jaff reported that the chief of mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the organization would look into a coordination mechanism with EU countries to prevent any forced return of Iraqi emigrants.

Thousands of Iraqis and Kurds fled to Europe in 2014 after the emergence of IS in northern Iraq, which threatened the lives of a number of minorities, including Christians and Yezidis (Ezidis). Some still consider the situation in the country a risk to their personal safety, especially since the attack and takeover of disputed territories and the province of Kirkuk by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias.