IDP and Refugee Return to Northern Iraq: Sustainable Returns or Demographic Bombs?

By Romano, David | Refuge, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

IDP and Refugee Return to Northern Iraq: Sustainable Returns or Demographic Bombs?


Romano, David, Refuge


Abstract

Regime change in Iraq has opened the door to the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), the majority of whom were expelled from Kirkuk and other areas in northern Iraq. The Iraqi case presents three broad, readily identifiable categories of displaced persons: refugees in Iraq's neighbouring states, internally displaced persons, and refugees and migrants in third countries further afield. The first two categories include the largest numbers of displaced people as well as the majority of those with a great desire or pressing need to return to their homelands in Iraq. Although some of those displaced have succeeded in making a good life for themselves in their new new homes, those who did not manage well after their displacement generally long to return to their original towns and homes. However, the following general problems, in order of gravity, impede the success and sustainability of returns to northern Iraq: (i) sectarian competition over political structures and power distributions in post-Saddam Iraq; (ii) increasing lack of security in Iraq; (iii) insufficient preparations and slow policy implementation by the former CPA and Coalition Forces; (iv) insufficient financial resources to deal with the full magnitude of the displacement problem in Iraq; and (v) high expectations of returnees vis-a-vis continuing lack of opportunities and the slow rate of positive developments in the social, economic and political situation in Iraq. However, the emerging political contests over the future of the new Iraq greatly complicate effective and comprehensive return programs; the ultimate test of success and sustainability of return to Iraq will depend on the future of post-Saddam Iraq itself.

Resume

Le changement de regime en Irak a ouvert la porte au retour de centaines de milliers de refugies et de personnes deplacees a l'inteieur de leur propre pays (PDIP), dont la majorite avaient ete expulses de Kirkuk et d'autres regions dans le nord de l'Irak.

Le cas irakien presente trois grandes categories de personnes deplacees facilement identifiables : les refugies vivant dans les etats voisins de l'Irak, les personnes deplacees a l'inteieur, et les refugies et migrants se trouvant dans des pays tiers plus eloignes. Les deux premiees categories englobent le plus grand nombre de personnes deplacees, aussi bien que la majorite de ceux ayant un grand desir ou un besoin impeieux de retourner dans leurs territoires d'origine en Irak.

Bien que certains des deplaces aient reussi a refaire leur vie de fafon satisfaisante dans leurs nouveaux terres d'accueil, ceux qui ne se sont pas bien tires d'affaire apres leur deplacement eprouvent genealement le desir de retourner dans leurs villes et leurs foyers d'origines. Cependant, les problemes generaux suivants, pris en ordre d'importance, entravent la reussite et la viabilite a long terme d'un retour vers le nord de l'Irak : (i) les rivalites sectaires pour le controle des structures politiques et la repartition du pouvoir dans l'Irak post-Saddam; (ii) le manque croissant de securite en Irak; (iii) les preparatifs insuffisants et la lenteur dans l'implementation des politiques par l'ex APC (Autorite Provisoire de la Coalition) et les Forces de la coalition; (iv) des ressources financieres insuffisantes pour traiter le probleme de deplacement en Irak dans route son ampleur; et (v) les attentes elevees des refugies par rapport au manque incessant d'opportunites et a la lenteur de deeloppements positifs quant a la situation sociale, economique et politique en Irak. Cependant, les rivalites politiques emergeantes pour decider de l'avenir du nouvel Irak compliquent enormement les programmes de retour efficaces et globaux ; le test ultime de la reussite et de la viabilite a long terme du retour en Irak dependra en fin de compte du sort meme de l'Irak post-Saddam.

Introduction

Regime change in Iraq has opened the door to the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), the majority of whom were expelled from Kirkuk and other areas in northern Iraq.

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IDP and Refugee Return to Northern Iraq: Sustainable Returns or Demographic Bombs?
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