Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq’s Migration and Displacement Ministry has denied reports that it has forced refugees to return to their home areas that are retaken from Islamic State militants.
Ministry under-secretary, Jassem al-Attiya, told Radio Sawa on Tuesday that the ministry “remains committed to the federal government’s decision which prevents the forced repatriation of refugees”.
“The government will not force anyone to return at present,” the official said.
Attiya, however, voiced his “astonishment” over the insistence of some refugees to stay in camps despite the liberation of their regions.
The U.S. embassy in Iraq and the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights have recently warned the Iraqi government against forcing refugees to return home in Anbar and other regions, recommending to ensure that repatriation be run based on the refugees’ will.
The United Nations says nearly five million people have been displaced since Islamic State militants took over large areas of Iraq in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate”.
Iraqi authorities had unveiled plans to repatriate all refugees before this year’s end. A campaign launched in 2016, and backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary troops, managed to retake all of Islamic State-held territories, most notably Mosul, the group’s former capital, by November 17th.