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IRAQ: New government plans to tackle population displacements
A displaced family in a camp erected in an orchard in Diyala province, about 90 km east of Baghdad (file photo)
BAGHDAD, 5 January 2011 (IRIN) - Iraq’s new government plans to tackle internal displacement and closely monitor and assist Iraqi refugees abroad, the country’s newly appointed migration and displacement minister said on 3 January.
“The Ministry has a strategic plan to tackle some of the sensitive issues related to displaced people,” Minister Dendar Najman Al-Doski said. One of the top priorities is “to work to end internal displacement as much as we can… and to cooperate with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international bodies to follow up with [Iraqi] refugees abroad,” he said.
Al-Doski said the plan was to encourage internally displaced persons (IDPs) to go back to their areas of origin, stay in the areas they have ended up in, or help them move to a new area.
He said his Ministry would “soon” open representative offices in Syria and Lebanon to assist refugees there, and would also be monitoring the situation closely in Jordan and Egypt.
“We need such representative offices now to collect information about the refugees and strengthen our bonds with them so that we can meet their needs, facilitate and expedite their return to the country and reintegrate them,” he said.
On 19 December, Iraq’s new government was sworn in after nearly eight months of political wrangling in the wake of elections which produced no clear winner.
Azhar Al-Mousawi, deputy minister for migration and displacement, said the improved political and security environment would be a major catalyst in ending internal displacement.
“I believe the atmosphere is better now in most of the country,” Al-Mousawi told IRIN. “The sectarian strife has ended now and political parties have started to work closely and cooperate”, although he acknowledged the security situation was still fragile in Ninevah, Kirkuk and Diyala.
The 2003 US-led invasion and the sectarian violence following the 2006 bombing of a Shia shrine triggered the current wave of migration.
As of the end December 2010, there were just under one million registered IDPs, Al-Mousawi said, though the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Refugees International and the Brookings Institution say there are 1.5 million IDPs in Iraq