The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement on Friday (August 23rd) launched a program to return thousands of displaced families living in displacement camps in Ninawa to their original areas in other provinces.
"We embarked today on a massive plan to return about 5,000 families living in displacement camps in Ninawa province to their homes," said Ali Abbas Jahankir, director general of the ministry's department of branch affairs.
The plan includes only families that were placed in camps scattered south of Mosul after fleeing their areas of origin in neighbouring provinces, such as Salaheddine and Anbar, as a result of terrorism and fighting, he told Diyaruna.
In addition to those families, the 14 camps -- most notably the camps of al-Jadaa, al-Mudarrij and Hassan Sham -- host about 30,000 families from Ninawa, Jahankir said.
The families will be returned in batches, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Transport and the security agencies, which are currently checking the families’ background to make sure that none of their members is linked to the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), he said.
"These measures are of course voluntary," Jahankir said. "The ministry does not force any family to return and we leave them full freedom to choose whether to remain in the camps or return to their areas."
The general trend is to opt to return, he noted, as the camps were set up as a temporary solution to the waves of displacement "and can therefore not serve as a substitute for homes".
The ministry "does not have a time limit" to complete the plan of returning displaced families to their homes, he said.
"Any return is subject to the completion of some key requirements, such as providing public services and ensuring stability and integration with the original communities are achieved," he added.
The ministry "is committed to lending a helping hand to any family that wants to end its years-long displacement", he said.
The new plan comes two days after the ministry announced it had brought back 4,325 internally displaced people (IDPs) from the al-Qadisiya camp for IDPs in Salaheddine province to their original areas of residence.
The areas they have returned to include the towns of al-Siniya, Baiji and al-Sharqat in Salaheddine, as well as Hatra and al-Baaj in Ninawa.
Security operations in Iraq have depleted the offensive capabilities of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants and stripped the group of the ability to regroup, according to officials and experts who spoke with Diyaruna.