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Research to Begin on Dynamics of Return for Displaced Iraqis


Iraq - IOM Iraq is undertaking research to investigate factors that limit displaced Iraqis’ willingness to return to their place of origin.

The proposed research is in response to the current displacement crisis, which began in January 2014 due to territorial gains by ISIL in northern and central Iraq, and the subsequent retake of some of these areas by coalition forces.

As of September 2016, IOM Iraq’s Displacement Tracking Matrix identified more than 900,000 returnees and over 3.3 million people displaced country-wide.

Field-based research will take place in five districts and eight sub-districts across affected areas of Iraq. A training in early October familiarized data collection focal points with the research questionnaire, and provided a review of research methodologies and best practices for data collection in the field. Actual data collection with local communities has just begun.

The objectives of the study are to understand the dynamics and actors involved in the decision to return, which actors have a greater influence in the decision, and at which level the decision takes place (household, family or community); to inquire into the obstacles faced during the return process and after the returnees are back to their place of origin; and to gauge the level of community tensions in the selected locations, focusing on the underlying factors and identifying potential actors with the capacity to foster compromise among community groups.

Representatives of these community groups are knowledgeable concerning the context, factors and shared dynamics of their respective groups. Therefore, a set of qualitative in-depth interviews with community leaders was selected as the preferred method for this stage of the research. A second stage will gather the views of returnees and IDPs through a complementary quantitative research study.

“Amid new displacement, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have returned to liberated areas, while others cannot return because of a variety of intricate factors that deserve careful assessment. This research will highlight groups of Iraqis in situations of protracted displacement who are often overlooked in favor of information being sought on newly displaced people, and provide insights into areas of return and the complexities involved in displaced Iraqis’ choices to return or to remain,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Weiss.

In an effort to assist and prepare for further returns of displaced populations in Iraq, IOM is chairing the Returns Working Group, established under the UN Humanitarian Country Team, to develop recommendations for Iraqi governorates affected by returns and provide technical advice to partners, government and civil society to support the implementation of returns according to international standards.

This research is part of an eight-month project funded by the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO). The final report is expected to be released in February 2017.

For further information, please contact Sandra Black at IOM Iraq, Tel. +964 751 234 2550, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 18:37

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