Turning back: Policy and data analysis of Iraqis moving back from Europe - Briefing Paper #02, January 2017
This briefing paper outlines the legal and policy frameworks governing the return of refugees and other migrants from Europe, with a particular focus on Iraqis. Analysing existing data on return migration from Europe, it identifies trends among Iraqis returning home, their reasons for return, and the conditions they face upon arriving in Iraq. Produced by the Mixed Migration Platform, this is the second in a series of studies examining specific issues pertinent to migration to, from and within the Middle East region. With over 1.5 million sea arrivals reported in Europe since 2014, much of the recent discourse on migration has focused on refugees and other migrants, particularly from the Middle East and Afghanistan, seeking safety and opportunity in Europe. Iraqis accounted for 7% of all arrivals to Europe in 2015, and 8% in 2016.3 At the same time, however, increasing numbers of newly arrived Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers4 are turning back despite ongoing conflict and instability at home, as they are faced with challenging conditions in Europe and strengthened policy efforts aimed at facilitating or enforcing returns. In 2014, Iraqis ranked 23rd among all nationalities returning from Europe, but had entered the top five in 2015. In the first half of 2016 alone, IOM assisted over 7,000 Iraqis to return home from Europe, double the number it helped in all of 2015. Findings from a purposive sample of Iraqis in Europe found one in five undecided about their intentions to remain; while not representative, this indicates many could decide to return home in the near future.