Over 1.8 million Iraqi displaced citizens have not returned to their homes yet and plan to stay where they are over the next 12 months, according to a study issued by International Organization for Migration.
However, a top official at the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement said that the number is much likely to be higher than the one announced in the study.
The study indicated that numbers of internally displaced persons (IDP) hiked in April 2016 where about 3.42 million individuals had to leave their areas after the war on ISIS escalated in Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahudine.
However, this number has decreased to about 1.9 million as of September 15, 2018 after ISIS was terminated and security was relatively established in areas that were occupied by the terrorist organization.
IOM pointed out that long-term displacement is difficult and people are unable to reduce the “vulnerability, impoverishment and marginalization that may be caused by displacement.”
The study classified the reasons why IDPs remain displaced into five categories: obstacles relating to housing; livelihoods and basic services; social cohesion; security; and mental health issues and psycho-social distress, with destruction of houses in areas of origin the most prevalent self-reported reason for displacement.
Chief of IOM Iraq Mission Gerard Waite stated that finding durable solutions to displacement is a long-term process requiring close cooperation between the government and a range of humanitarian actors.
“Such support includes helping IDPs improve their coping capacities and self-reliance as well as facilitating environments to absorb displaced and returning populations in host communities,” Waite added.
However, a senior official at the Iraqi Ministry said that the number of displaced people, both in camps and in other areas, is higher than that estimated by the Organization.
"The Ministry's statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of the displaced are returning, but the problem is that many of them do not inform our offices in the provinces of their return, so the numbers of IDPs or returnees often lack the required precision," he said.
He revealed there are over 500,000 displaced persons in 127 camps across the country.
The official agreed with the study on the reasons why IDPs choose to stay where they are, adding that the total destruction of homes is one of the reasons, in addition to the great damage to the infrastructure of the areas liberated from ISIS, and lack of a real source of income there.
He pointed to another reason he considered "essential and extremely important" that prevented the return of many displaced persons is that IDPs have integrated and adapted to their new communities and some were even involved in marital relations.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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