Academic journal article Refuge

Attempting Return: Iraqis' Remigration from Iraq

Academic journal article Refuge

Attempting Return: Iraqis' Remigration from Iraq

Article excerpt

Abstract

The voluntary repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons is interpreted as evidence of restored security and political stability, improved civil-state relations, and public confidence in reconstruction efforts in war-torn countries. The findings presented in this article indicate that Iraqi refugees' decision to return is driven less by improvements in Iraq than by their desire to rebuild their lives back home and overcome the difficult legal and socio-economic conditions in neighbouring countries. The article explores Iraqi returnees' experiences based on accounts of their return and subsequent remigration to Syria and Jordan. The micro- and macrotransformations occurring in post-Saddam Iraq have a strong bearing on refugees' return and reintegration in their home communities. In the absence of permanent solutions to protracted displacement, the Iraqis engage in transnational mobility and livelihood strategies and participate in the socio-economic developments in home and host countries through the constant multidirectional flow of economic, social, and human capital.

Resume

Le rapatriement volontaire des refugies et des personnes deplacees localement est interprete comme un signe de la restauration de la securite et de la stabilite politique, de l'amelioration des relations entre l'etat et les citoyens, et d'une augmentation de la confiance dans les efforts de reconstruction des pays dechires par la guerre. Les resultats presentes dans cet article indiquent que la decision des Irakiens de retourner dans leur pays est moins le resultat d'une meilleure conjoncture en Irak que de leur desir de reconstruire leur vie dans leur pays et de fuir les difficultes legales et socio-economiques qu'ils rencontrent dans les pays voisins. On y explore les experiences des Irakiens qui sont retournes au pays, sur la base des recits de leur retour et de leur re-emigration en Syrie et en Jordanie. Les micro- et les macro-transformations ayant lieu dans l'Irak d'apres Saddam ont en realite beaucoup de poids sur le retour et la reintegration des refugies irakiens dans leur communaute. En absence de solutions durables aux deplacements prolonges, les Irakiens s'engagent dans la mobilite internationale et la recherche de moyens de subsistance, et contribuent ainsi au developpement socio-economique de leur pays et des pays voisins par le flux multidirectionnel economique, social et humain qu'ils creent.

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Introducing Return and Transnational Mobility in the Iraqi Displacement Context

The voluntary repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) is generally interpreted as evidence of progress in a series of post-conflict issues, including restoration of security and political stability, improvements in civil-state relations, and public confidence in reconstruction and development goals in war-torn countries. (1) In contrast, the protracted presence of displaced populations challenges the legitimacy of post-conflict states. (2) The findings presented in this article indicate that Iraqi refugees' decision to return is driven less by improvements in the country of origin than by their desire to rebuild their lives back home and to overcome the difficult socio-economic and legal conditions in the countries of first asylum: Syria and Jordan.

The persistent lack of political stability and security in Iraq not only complicates the repatriation of Iraqi citizens but also limits academics' and practitioners' ability to investigate the return experiences of Iraq's forced migrants. This article attempts to address this problem by offering a qualitative study of the experiences of externally displaced Iraqis who tried to return and reintegrate into their home societies and who, for a host of reasons, have decided to re-migrate to Syria and Jordan, the neighbouring countries of refuge. Drawing upon the concept of Returnee's Preparedness and Resource Mobilization, (3) this article defines "return" as an act that entails not only a clear and open choice on the part of the refugee, but, above all, a proof of readiness supported by the gathering of sufficient intangible and tangible resources, indispensable for sustainable reintegration. …

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