Return Migration of Iraqis: Two Case Studies.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Irene TUZI, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, Lebanese American University, Lebanon
Mireille AL-RAHI, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, Migration Institute of Finland, Finland
Throughout the past three decades, there have been a growing number of Iraqi refugees settling in both Middle Eastern countries and in European Member States due to the 2003-2011 war in Iraq and the on-going Syrian conflict since 2011. Both dreadful events have been a watershed for the Iraqi State and its citizens, leading to a profound process of state-society transformation (Yahya, 2015).

In the past ten years, a substantial number of those displaced Iraqis have returned to their homeland, sometimes with the intention to resettle permanently there, although they have usually defined their return as a visit or a temporary sojourn (Kivisto & La Vecchia-Mikkola, 2013). A major pull factor is the wish to reconnect with left-behind families and friends and with the land of origin. Nevertheless in refugees’ decision to return, push factors, such as the host government policies and civil society attitudes towards them as well as anti-immigration sentiments and integration failure, can play an important role in stimulating the will to go back to the country of origin.

This study is the result of a joint multi-situated research and fieldwork in Lebanon and Finland and it aims at examining push and pulls factors of Iraqi refugees’ decision to return home. It also investigates the ambivalence towards this decision in order to offer an insight into the process of redefining refugees’ relationship with their country of origin – which in their imagination is not a country of violence and suffering anymore, but becomes an idealized, mythic place at odd with reality on the ground (Kivisto & La Vecchia-Mikkola, 2013).