BAGHDAD, Jan 12 (KUNA) -- For the first time since the beginning of the Iraq crisis in December 2013, the number of people returning to their area of origin has surpassed that of the displaced in the country, the UN migration agency reported on Friday.
The mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq said in a press release that the country has been deeply affected by the conflict with the so-called Islamic State (IS) over the past four years, which led to the displacement of nearly six million people.
Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announced Iraq's victory over IS on 9 December 2017 when the IOM identified 3.2 million people, who have returned to their place of origin, while a staggering 2.6 million remained displaced.
Following the improvement of the security situation in retaken areas, a sizable number of internally displaced Iraqis have returned to their location of origin, mainly to the Governorates of Anbar (38 percent; more than 1.2 million people), Nineveh (30 percent; nearly 975,000 people), and Salah Al-Din (14 percent; nearly 460,000 people).
These three governorates were the worst affected by IS's occupation, and count for 86 percent of the current displaced population in the country, according to the IOM.
Shortly after the operation to retake Mosul was launched in October 2016, IOM Iraq constructed two emergency displacement sites, one in Haj Ali and one in Qayara, with combined capacity of sheltering 110,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The sites were constructed in partnership with the Government's Ministry of Migration and Displacement; both sites are located in the southeast of Nineveh governorate.
The sites are still sheltering more than 71,000 internally displaced persons, who receive relief kits, medical services and psychosocial support from IOM, and a variety of other services from other humanitarian partners.
Intra-Governorate returns of IDPs account for 55 percent of returnees; this has been a common trend across the most affected Governorates and is likely to continue as the number of displaced people remains high.
In fact, the most significant concentration of IDPs is currently in Nineveh (57 percent) with an intra-governorate internally displaced people population of 97 percent, the UN migration agency added.
"Iraqis who remain displaced are among the most vulnerable, as they face obstacles to return, including damage or destruction of their home and local infrastructure, financial limitations and other constraints," said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq Chief of Mission. (end)