Returns Continue While Obstacles to Return Remain in Iraq: IOM

Erbil – The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Iraq has decreased to 2 million, and the number of returnees has increased to 3.8 million, according to IOM Iraq’s latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report, released this past week by IOM Iraq.

The largest return population is found in Ninewa governorate (1.4 million; mainly Mosul, Tel-Afar and Al-Hamdaniya districts), followed by Anbar governorate with 1.2 million returnees (Fallujah and Ramadi districts), and Salah al-Din governorate, with over 534,000 returnees. Of the more than 3.8 million returnees, more than 3.7 million have returned to their areas and pre-displacement residence.

Despite more than 590,000 IDPs having returned in 2018, the pace is slowing down as the remaining IDPs face significant obstacles to return.  In IOM Iraq’s Integrated Location Assessment (ILA) Round III, an annual survey which was released this week, IDPs cite damage and destruction to housing (26%), lack of job opportunities (25%), and lack of safety in their locations of origin (18%), as the main obstacles to return.

As a result, only 30% of the remaining IDPs intend to return in the next six months, while the majority of IDPs have no immediate plans to return home. In the long term (six months or more), 60 per cent of IDPs plan to return to their place of origin, 22 per cent want to locally integrate and 15 per cent plan to integrate because they do not have other viable options. 

When it comes to recovery needs, the greatest expressed needs for returnees is access to employment and livelihood opportunities, followed by access to solutions for displacement related rights violations, and improved safety, security and freedom of movement, among others.

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite said: “While IDP returns continue across Iraq, we remain cognizant of the fact that many IDPs remain in displacement, facing significant challenges to return. We must all be reminded of the long road that remains ahead for the most vulnerable returnees and IDPs and scale up our support to address their immediate needs.” 

In cooperation with the Government of Iraq and local communities, IOM Iraq is implementing comprehensive projects in return areas to assist with the sustainable reintegration of IDPs, including through rehabilitation of infrastructure, livelihood support, access to basic social services, community policing forums, and social cohesion and peacebuilding initiatives.

More information is available on the DTM website:

The latest DTM report can be accessed at:

The Returns Dashboard can be downloaded at:

The Integrated Location Assessment – Round III, completed from March to May 2018, looks into displacement and returns, profiling locations and social dynamics. This includes the demographics, conditions, movement intentions, and vulnerabilities. Data is available at:

A full report on this data will be available later this year.

For more information please contact Sandra Black in IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: