Iraq + 2 more

Migration from Iraq to European Union Countries: A Survey of Returnees from the Belarusian Migration Crisis



• To better understand the experiences, motivation and needs of Iraqis who returned from Belarus and neighbouring countries during the Belarusian migration crisis in 2021/22, IOM Iraq utilised its network of Rapid Assessment and Response Teams (RARTs) to conduct a survey of returnees.

• Using a chain referral sampling methodology, 234 respondents were surveyed in February 2022, the majority of whom were aged 18-34 (77%), male (82%) and unmarried (60%). Due to the non-probabilistic sample design, findings presented here cannot be generalised to a broader population.

• IOM also conducted community discussions (CDs) in Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah governorates to complement the survey. 116 individuals (63 men and 53 women) participated, including returnees from Belarus and bordering EU countries, as well as community members who had remained in Iraq but came from communities impacted by the Belarus migration crisis.

• Over half of the male survey respondents were unemployed and seeking work (54%), with a similar proportion holding primary education as their highest level of attainment (48%). Female respondents comprised 18 per cent of those interviewed, the majority of whom were aged 18-34 (61%) and married (68%). Most female respondents stated their employment as domestic work in their own homes (56%).

• Most respondents travelled to seek employment in their intended destination (82%). Around half of respondents stated they were seeking asylum (51%). Those reportedly seeking asylum were more likely to reside in Baghdad governorate (81%) than in Erbil (56%),
Dahuk (36%) or Sulaymaniyah (6%).

• Over half of all respondents received help to migrate (64%). Of these, most received assistance from family or friends (58%), with 41 per cent reporting using a people smuggler and 38 per cent reporting travel facilitated through a travel agent.

• Most respondents intended their final destination to be one of the countries of the EU (66%). Germany was the most prevalent intended destination overall (35%), followed by the United Kingdom (24%) and Lithuania (21%).

• Most respondents transited through one or more countries on route to their destination (89%). Of these, around half transited through Belarus itself, flying there directly from Iraq (53%), before attempting to move to neighbouring countries of the EU. Smaller proportions travelled through Turkey (17%), the United Arab Emirates (10%) or Lebanon (3%) before travelling to Belarus, Poland and/or Lithuania.

• Half of all respondents returned to Iraq from Belarus itself (50%), with a further 41 percent returning from Lithuania. Others returned from Latvia (6%), Poland (2%) and Turkey (1%). Overall, 76 per cent of respondents received assistance to return.

• Asked what assistance they required upon return, most respondents cited access to employment (80%) and access to credit (58%).
Assistance needs differed according to the governorate of residence of respondents with, for example, shelter (43%) and childcare (38%) the most prevalent needs identified by respondents from Sulaymaniyah governorate, 30 per cent of whom were female.

• Nearly all respondents identified the need for better employment and livelihood opportunities in the area in which they currently reside (97%). Over half also noted the need for reduced public corruption (59%), improved access to basic services (58%) and access to credit (53%).

• Asked if they would attempt to emigrate again, only 29 per cent of respondents said that they would. Those respondents that habitually reside in Dahuk governorate were the most likely to attempt to emigrate again with 50 per cent intent on emigration or undecided.

• Despite the many difficulties experienced by respondents during their attempted emigration and upon return, underlying economic and socio-political pressures will likely continue to drive emigration, particularly among un- and underemployed men seeking employment opportunities abroad.

• Reintegration assistance that addresses the primary needs of returnees, including socio-economic, social, and psycho-social needs, is critical to ensuring sustainable reintegration for those who have returned to Iraq from Belarus and EU countries.

• The report concludes that the expansion of monitoring and data collection exercises at points of departure from Iraq is essential to anticipate volumes of emigration that may lead to crises, and to better management of orderly migration, more targeted information campaigns and more effective reintegration programming.