Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2017, 14:53 GMT

Iraqi refugees regret returning home, UN agency finds

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 19 October 2010
Cite as UN News Service, Iraqi refugees regret returning home, UN agency finds, 19 October 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cc51ce41e.html [accessed 29 May 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A majority of Iraqi refugees who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries have regretted their decision, citing insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services, according to a new poll carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The survey of more than 2,300 Iraqis who returned to Baghdad's Resafa and Karkh districts between 2007 and 2008 found that more than one third said they are uncertain whether they will stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in nearby nations again if conditions do not improve.

UNHCR staff carried out the poll from April to September this year, both in person and over the telephone.

Those surveyed spoke of many instances of explosions, harassment, military operations and kidnapping occurring in their areas of return, agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva today.

"Many interviewed stated that they were obliged to return to Iraq because they could no longer afford the high cost of living in asylum States," she said, voicing UNHCR's continued concern over forcible deportations of Iraqi refugees from their countries of asylum to Iraq.

Nearly 90 per cent of those interviewed told the agency that their current income cannot cover their families' needs in Iraq.

"One of the principal challenges for Iraqi returnees is finding regular employment, making them reliant on irregular jobs, which are often not available," Ms. Fleming said.

A similar survey carried out on the Syrian and Jordanian borders found that most Iraqi refugees living in those two nations are reluctant to permanently return to their home country, with nearly half of the respondents listing political uncertainty as their main reason to not repatriate.

"UNHCR does not envisage wide-scale returns to Iraq in the short-term," its spokesperson noted.

Although the agency does not promote returning to Iraq, it continues to help refugees who voluntarily wish to go home, in close coordination with the country's authorities. From 2007, UNHCR has assisted nearly 3,000 Iraqis return to their home country.

According to the Iraqi Government, more than 18,000 Iraqi refugees have returned from countries of asylum from January through August this year, and UNHCR is spending $100 million this year in Iraq to alleviate the conditions of the internally displaced and help destitute returnees re-integrate.

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