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3.3 million displaced Iraqis returned to areas of origin by January: IOM

A displaced Iraqi woman receives humanitarian aid supplies at a camp for the internally displaced in Salamiyah village east of Mosul, March 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says around 3.3 million Iraqi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had returned to their areas of origin by the end of January, some two months after the Iraqi government declared the end of military operations against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group following the total defeat of the outfit in the Arab country.

In its monthly report on displacement until January 31, 2018, which was published on Friday, the IOM also confirmed that some 2.5 million people continued to live in displacement - a quarter of them in camps - or areas far from their original homes.

“The return movements continue. In January, another 125,000 returnees were identified in the four provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddin, Kirkuk and Anbar,” the intergovernmental organization further said.

On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh.

On July 10, Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi paramilitary fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The photo, taken on June 10, 2017, shows displaced Iraqi children gathering behind a fence at Hasan Sham camp for internally displaced people. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

“As Iraq enters the recovery phase after three years of conflict, we should remember that real reconstruction of the country will not only be based on rebuilding infrastructure,” said Gerard Waite, the IOM's Iraq chief of mission.

“Provision of specialized support to all who survived the conflict is also needed, alongside reconstruction of infrastructure,” he added.

The western province of Anbar has so far received the largest number of IDPs in the past three years, owing to improved security, rehabilitation of services and rebuilding of infrastructure.

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