YOUTH PERSPECTIVES ON MIGRATION IN IRAQ

Migration is appealing for many young Iraqis, but they have limited knowledge about how to go about it, and the risks and challenges that migration poses. Migration is appealing for many young Iraqis, but they have limited knowledge about how to go about it, and the risks and challenges that migration poses. IOM

In January 2013, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the British Government, began to answer an important question: what do youth in Iraq think about migration? With support from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, IOM surveyed nearly 3,000 potential migrants, irregular migrants, and returnees in Iraq, as well as a small percentage of Iraqi migrants living irregularly in the UK. IOM focused on young males, between the ages of 18 and 35, and derived insights into youth perspectives on migration in Iraq.


The survey provided very interesting results: for most youth interviewed, the idea of migration outside of Iraq is very appealing. The majority of respondents in the south (99%) and high percentages of those in the Kurdistan Region (75%) reported that they had seriously considered migration. The major push factors reported were youths’ frustration with the lack of adequate employment and social freedoms. However, there is a large gap between this desire to migrate and any real action towards it. Youths’ knowledge of migration is largely anecdotal - most know someone who has migrated or tried to migrate irregularly, but are not well informed otherwise. The majority of the respondents viewed irregular migration, namely smuggling, as negative but easily accessible; the most common smuggling route is through Turkey to Greece.


In the UK, young Iraqi migrants reported mixed feelings regarding the results of their irregular migration. Although most wanted to stay in the UK, all respondents spoke of loneliness, frustration, and uncertainty. Many suggested that even if their asylum application was rejected, young migrants planned to stay in the UK illegally. Respondents considered returning to Iraq a failure in light of the money and time sacrificed by themselves and their families to facilitate the migration. Of the Iraqi returnees interviewed by IOM, most highlighted the challenges of reintegration: the mishandling of their return, false promises by the government, and a feeling of abandonment and shame. To learn more, check out the full report on youth perspectives: http://iomiraq.net/Documents/FCOIOMIraqSurveyReport2013%20Englishversion.pdf

 

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