Four Million Iraqis Return Home After War On IS

Iraqis protest following the funeral of a man on September 4, 2018, that family and Human rights activists claim was killed by bullet shots during the previous day, while demonstrating against the government and the lack of basic services, in the southern city of Basra.
Haidar MOHAMMED ALI / AFP

 

Nearly four million Iraqis displaced by the war on the Islamic State group have returned to their homes, the UN migration agency said in a report released Tuesday.

When IS swept across Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing around one-third of the country, it forced six million Iraqis to flee for safety, said the International Organization for Migration.

The IOM said the six million who were displaced represented around 15 percent of Iraq’s total population.

“For the first time in nearly four years, the number of displaced Iraqis has fallen to below two million,” the agency said. “Nearly four million have returned home.”

According to the IOM, the displaced who have returned home cited several reasons for their decision, including “the improved security situation (and) availability of housing”.

Others said they were encouraged to return by community leaders, friends and relatives, or simply had the financial means to do so.

But those who are still displaced – 1,931,868 people – complain of lack of means and job opportunities, as well as insecurity and of damaged homes and infrastructure, said the IOM.

It said most of those who had gone back were displaced from the northern province of Nineveh – home to Iraq’s second city Mosul and an IS bastion for three years before it was driven out in 2017.

Displaced Iraqis have also gone back in large numbers to the Sunni province of Anbar bordering Syria and scene of the last major battle against IS.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “victory” in December in the fight against IS.

But sleeper cells still operate in the country from sparsely populated areas, including desert regions near the border with Syri

Iraqis Celebrate Victory Over Islamic State On Baghdad Streets

Iraqis Celebrate Victory Over Islamic State On Baghdad Streets

Spontaneous celebrations erupted throughout Iraq on Monday, following Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s formal declaration of victory over Islamic State in Mosul.

The declaration comes three years after the militants seized the city and made it the stronghold of a “caliphate”, adding that they said would take over the world.

Hundreds of Iraqis gathered in downtown Baghdad to celebrate the declaration.

Many driving in their cars honked horns and flew Iraqi flags out of windows.

A Baghdad resident Mahmoud Ahmed said: “As you can see, victory has brought happiness and joy to all the Iraqi people. We pray to the Almighty God that peace and security prevail in Iraq. Iraqi people have suffered a lot and we hope that Mosul people will return to their homes”.

Another Resident Abbas Hashim also said: “I feel happy about the victory achieved by the Iraqi security forces and the return of Mosul to the fold of the homeland. We pray to God for the quick return of displaced people to Mosul city”.

A 100,000-strong coalition of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias launched the offensive to recapture the city from the militants in October, with key air and ground support from a coalition led by the United States.

EU Leaders Agree To Relocate 40,000 Migrants

eu on migrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have agreed to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

At a late-night meeting in Brussels, the summit Chairman, Donald Tusk, said 40,000 migrants will be relocated to other EU states over the next two years.

However, there will be no mandatory quotas for each country.

New figures from the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, UNHCR, show that 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year and 62,000 in Italy.

The summit Chairman had earlier called on EU member states to share the burden of the loads of illegal migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.

Media reports says that leaders have agreed to resettle another 20,000 refugees who are currently outside the EU.

It is also reported that French President, Francois Hollande, said he expected most of the refugees to be Syrians and Iraqis.

Meanwhile, details of where the refugees will go is yet to be decided.