The scenes of Iraqi refugees de-planing Prime Minister Maliki’s official jet on red carpets and shaking the hands of Iraqi officials would, to the reasonable person, seem nothing short of a public relations coup by the Iraqi government. Since August 11th, the Prime Minister has dispatched an official jet that has repatriated about 1,000 Iraqi refugees from Egypt, a country in which they were undoubtedly unwelcome.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the Iraqi government is giving $800 to each family to settle back in Iraq. This economic incentive is compelling considering that many refugees have depleted their savings as they are prohibited from working, receiving social services, and enrolling their children in public schools in Egypt. Contrast this situation with the Displacement and Migration Minister’s, Abdel Samad Rahman, characterization of their repatriation as “voluntary.”
However, there are signs that the Iraqi government is serious about permanently resettling refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). IRIN, a UN news service, reports that the government is cracking down on squatters who dwell in houses that rightfully belong to IDPs. According to the article, the plan includes giving squatters a one month grace period to vacate and may also include a one time payment to squatters for USD $1,5000. The article also relates that the government plans to pay IDPs willing to return to their rightful property USD $850. Furthermore, each IDP family qualifies for a payment of USD $145 for three months while they are displaced.