IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI): Intractable Return and Absence of Social Integration Policy

This paper examines the protracted nature of displacement in the Iraqi context and places emphasis on the need for a social integration policy to bridge the deep cleavages of Iraqi society. Methodologically, the paper utilizes qualitative data by conducting focus-group discussions with IDPs and semi-structured individual interviews in KRI. In terms of return possibilities, while return in many ways is perceived to be not practical and to involve future risks, research findings show that a community-based distinction needs to be made between IDPs from minority backgrounds and IDPs who belong to demographic majorities in the homeland locations. A second distinction is a geographic and political one as findings indicate that IDPs who take refuge in KRI, though remain largely dissatisfied with displacement conditions, are willing to stay in KRI longer in the hope of further security and reconstruction process in the violence-affected areas. With respect to social integration policy, the paper outlines institutional, political and cultural explanations for a virtually absolute absence of social integration policy on national and regional levels. The paper suggests that the proposed social integration policy can capitalize practical implications of Social Contact Theory (SCT) in
enhancing the integration of IDPs in the host communities.

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