News: Iraq Unprepared to Reintegrate Refugees

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Over the past several weeks, this blog has highlighted reports and news articles that question some of the optimistic outlooks being offered after a return of some refugees to Iraq. As we previously commented, UNHCR released a report on misleading figures regarding who is crossing the border and the AP has reported that Iraqi officials admit they cannot yet handle a significant return of refugees.

A New York Times article has brought to light even more reason to be concerned about the reintegration process of refugees returning to Iraq. Refugees are coming back to a chaotic situation:

The housing situation in Baghdad resembles a fraught game of musical chairs. Some displaced people are renting refugees’ homes; others moved in secretly or by force. Still others, like Ms. Kadhom and Ms. Hashim [two Iraqi returnees profiled in this story], have nowhere to move back to, either because their homes are gone or their neighborhoods are unsafe. And as refugees return in greater numbers, and find strangers, especially strangers from a different sect, living in their homes, security gains here could be erased.

As one Iraqi describes, nobody is willing to help mitigate some of the consequences that could be caused by the altered demographic:

“There’s no one helping us negotiate the return,” he said, shaking his head. “The Americans are telling us that we’ve got to negotiate between each other, because it’s not their business. But the Iraqi government said it’s not their business either.”

To read the rest of the New York Times article, click here.


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