More than 183,000 internally displaced and migrant families have returned to their original home areas over the past few years, Iraqi officials announced Thursday (May 10th).
Salam al-Khafajy, undersecretary for the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced, told Mawtani the statistics were tallied from 2008 until May 8th of this year.
"About 60% of those families [183,132] returned from internal displacement while the rest returned from outside the country, particularly from Syria, Jordan, Iran and Lebanon," he said.
Acts of violence, which peaked in 2006 and 2007, forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families to leave their homes in search for more secure areas inside Iraq or in other countries.
"An improvement in security across the country was one of the major reasons that encouraged people to return voluntarily in addition to the ministry's programmes for assisting returnees that allowed them to integrate back into their original communities," Khafajy said.
"The ministry now provides every returning family with 4 million dinars ($3,200) to help them meet their basic needs after the return," he said.
"There are also services that we offer to the displaced who are returning, such as coordinating with other state ministries and offices to facilitate a return to their jobs if they were government employees and helping re-enroll their children in schools and universities," he said.
"We also have programmes in co-operation with the International Migration Organisation to re-qualify and retrain the returnees in various professions, help the unemployed to open small income projects, and create suitable jobs for them, which would help in accelerating the process of integration and improve their living conditions," Khafajy said.
He said the ministry allocated 10 billion dinars ($8 million) to finance these programmes during 2012 and increase the number of beneficiaries in all Iraqi provinces.
Sattar Nawruz, deputy general director of the ministry's office for Migration Affairs, told Mawtani that Baghdad province recorded the highest number of returning families at 67,709. Ninawa province ranked second with 50,526 followed by Diyala with 31,769. Salah al-Din registered the lowest number with 1,658, according to Nawruz.
"The statistics also recorded a considerable number of highly educated, displaced Iraqis retuning from abroad, such as university professors and persons with high level specializations, whose numbers reached 3,984," he said.
Nawruz said he expected "an increase in the rates of voluntary return in the near future because of progress in the country in terms of security, economy, and service". He said the ministry "is continuing its special services and programmes to assist the returnees and provide the requirements for their reintegration into society".
Zakiya al-Jiwary, a member of the Iraqi parliament's displaced persons committee, told Mawtani the committee is collaborating with provincial councils to provide low-cost housing or a residential plot of lands for returning families that do not own a home.
"We are also trying to increase the financial grant given to returnees […] whose homes were severely damaged or lost all their household goods during the period when gunmen controlled their areas," she said. "Those families should be compensated and a helping hand extended to them in a special way."
Al-Jiwary said the Ministry of Migration and the Displaced should "intensify their efforts in supporting the returning families by providing them with the necessary supplies that would help them to rebuild their lives and create the proper environment for reintegration again into their communities and eliminate the human suffering and hardships that were caused by the displacement".