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Iraqi Refugees, Displaced Persons Slow To Return Home

A camp for displaced Iraqis in Sulaimaneya province (file photo)
BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi parliament deputy says only a small number of the Iraqis who fled their homes because of violence have returned since the security situation improved over the past year, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Abdul Khaliq Zangana, chairman of parliament's Deportees, Immigrants, and Expatriates Committee, told RFI that government statistics show that of the more than 4 million Iraqis who either fled the country or sought refuge in another part of Iraq, only 32,000 families have returned to their homes.

Zangana said that "as much as we would like to see all refugees and [Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs] return to their homes, we have to admit that favorable conditions conducive to their return are still nonexistent."

Zangana pointed out that his committee met recently with parliament speaker Ayad al-Samarrai to discuss the plight of Iraqi refugees and IDPs and that the lawmakers "underlined the need for a comprehensive plan to encourage their return, provided the issue is not politicized for electioneering."

Zangana said that those who return receive little assistance from the government and many of the returnees are regretting their decision to come home.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service estimates that there may be as many as 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately 2.7 million Iraqis displaced within Iraq.