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“Beyond Barriers: Contours and Complexities of IDP Return”

Middle East Research Institute

Created 03/31/2020

Panel chairman Henriette Johansen explained that internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Nineveh Province experience multiple layers of barriers to their return, some of which are unarticulated or invisible in the milieu of societal concerns stemming from Nineveh’s history of violence and its ongoing challenges with security and public administration.

Panel Three: Beyond Barriers: Contours and Complexities of IDP Return

  • Nathanael Nizar Semaan, Archbishop of Hadiab Syriac Catholic Diocese
  • Karem Sleman, Spokesperson of Yazidi Spiritual Council
  • Elie Abouaoun, Director of MENA Programs, United States Institute of Peace
  • Henriette Johansen, Research Fellow, MERI (Moderator)

Within Nineveh’s minority communities, historic legacies of socio economic and political disenfranchisement, war, genocide, and foreign invasion have enervated the will to return. While 4.3 million IDPs have returned, 1.5 million still remain in displacement. Recent government measures, such as rapidly consolidating and closing IDP camps across Nineveh, have sent a new wave of IDPs into critical shelter and extreme living conditions. Expectation and hope for sustainable, voluntary return are diminishing, along with IDPs’ expectation that authorities will deliver on their promises. After protracted displacement, IDPs are feeling the push to integrate into their host communities or emigrate abroad. Johansen explained that, in the ensuing discussion, panelists would be solicited for any actions within their respective remits that could rectify this situation for their constituents.

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