In 2020, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their area of origin (AoO) or being re-displaced increased, coupled with persisting challenges in relation to social cohesion, lack of services, infrastructure and - in some cases - security in AoO.1 Increased returns were driven in part by the ongoing closure and consolidation of IDP camps; at the time of data collection, 14 camps and two informal sites had closed or been re-classified, with planning ongoing surrounding the future of the remaining camps across Iraq.2 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)’s Returnee Master List recorded that over 8,100 households returned to non-camp locations across the country between September and December 2020.3 In light of these dynamics, the need to better understand the sustainability of returns, conditions for the (re)integration of IDPs and returnees, and the impact of their presence on access to services and social cohesion has been identified in the context of humanitarian and development planning.
Yathreb is a sub-district of Balad District in Salah Al-Din Governorate.
It is located 45 kilometres north from Baghdad, on the Tigris river. It is close to other cities and towns such as Al-Duloeyah, Balad, Al-Esshaqi,
Dojama, Al-Tarmiya and Al-Taji which facilitates commerce and access to markets.
In August 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) undertook military activities in Yathreb Sub-district resulting in widespread displacement.4 In December 2014, the government forces and their allies retook Yathreb Sub-district from ISIL, however, as of August 2020, some households in Yathreb were still concerned about possible ISIL operations in the area.5 According to the IOM DTM, the majority of households displaced from Yathreb returned to their AoO between April and June 2017.5 However, some households remain displaced, and returns to the area continue; Yathreb Sub-district accounted for 94.1% of the returns to Balad District between September and December 2020, and for 81.4% of the total returns to Salah Al-Din Governorate.3 The DTM Return Index reported that as of December 2020, 6,028 households had returned to Yathreb Sub-district.