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Harsh Refugee Life Spurs Return Of Iraqi Refugees

Middle East/Eastern Europe office (MEERO)

Harsh refugee life rather than improved security spurs return of Iraqi refugees

The recent return of considerable numbers of Iraqi refugees to their homeland has been hailed by some as evidence of an improvement in the security situation inside Iraq. Many Iraqi refugees face little alternative, however, than to return to their homeland, according to a survey by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Syria.

Most returnees did so because they were running out of money or because their visas had expired, states the report, with less than 15 per cent found to be returning because they believed the security situation had improved.

According to the Iraqi government, up to 1,000 Iraqi refugees are returning to their homeland each day.

'So far there are no indications that the refugees in Jordan are planning to return to Iraq anytime soon,' said Nidal Qsar, Jordan Office Manager. 'World Vision is continuing to monitor the situation closely for signs of change' added Qsar.

The UNHCR in Jordan also confirms that there is no indication that things are changing in Jordan at the moment, but adds that any change could happen quickly.

The UN agency has stated that it is not encouraging refugees to return to Iraq at the present because the situation remains too insecure, and conditions are not condusive for a large scale return according to a BBC report at the weekend.

Recent visa restrictions in both Syria and Jordan have made it virtually impossible for new refugees to gain access to either country, and in Syria in particular, Iraqi refugees now find it hard to remain. By being denied work permits, Iraqis across the region are rapidly depleting their savings and are facing ever-worsening economic conditions.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch found that Iraqi refugees in Lebanon are subject to arrest and indefinite incarceration. Some are only able to secure their release by agreeing to return to Iraq.

World Vision is currently preparing for the second phase of the integrated advocacy and relief emergency response to the regional displacement crisis. During phase two, child-focused community support centres will be established in Jordan, in order to encourage peacebuilding initiatives, offer psychosocial support to children, and informal education.


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