Mosul IDPs at a refugee camp in Hamam Alil town, south of Mosul. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Iraqi minister of immigration predicted on Sunday that at least 70 percent of Mosul Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are going to return home and leave refugee camps by the end of this year as the government is working to restore security and services to the city.
"More than a quarter of the IDPs have returned home since Mosul was liberated and we expect by the eve of the new year, at least 70 percent of people will have returned," Darbaz Mohammed, the Iraqi immigration minister told reporters in Khazir camp.
Mohammed warned "the longer they stay in camps the worse their situation will get."
He was also hopeful that by the end of this year "there will not be any camps and tents housing refugees."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul liberated from ISIS in July after nearly nine months of fighting.
Mohammed said they will consider it a victory when "the large numbers of refugees have returned home."
"It is true that a military success has been achieved, but the problems and plights continue and life cannot continue at refugee camps, therefore we work to return them as soon possible," he said.
He also added the nine-month-long Mosul battle forced as many as 1 million civilians from Mosul and its surroundings to abandon homes and seek shelter at refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and other parts of Iraq.
Some 241,000 have so far returned to their area since the battle for Mosul ended.
Some of the underlying reasons preventing IDPs from returning is lack of services and security and food shortage.
The Iraqi government is working to restore security, stability and services to Mosul, he noted.
"The lack of security while returning and the lack of basic services and the threat of dying of hunger,” has compelled Mosul IDPs to stay in the camps despite the liberation of their areas, Hoshang Mohammed, director general of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre, told Rudaw.
Mohammed estimated that "due to war, 228,000 persons from Mosul and its surroundings were displaced to the cities of Erbil and Duhok."
Of this number, "more than 76,000 have returned to their liberated areas."
In parts of speech, Darbaz Mohammed, immigration minister, also hailed the Kurdistan KRG in playing "an important role" in taking in large numbers of Mosul IDPs and dedicating camps to them.