An estimated 2.3 million Iraqi refugees fled the sectarian violence that erupted in the country after Saddam Hussein was overthrown in the United States-led offensive of 2003.
Despite a programme launched by the Iraqi government in 2007 to encourage the Iraqi diaspora to return home, until recently relatively few had taken up the offer.
Now the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) reports that this situation is starting to change.
Dindar Najman, Iraq’s minister for migration and displacement, told IWPR that although his ministry did not have exact figures, he estimated that the numbers ran into tens of thousands since the beginning of 2011.
While the report suggests that turmoil in other countries following the Arab Spring is a significant factor, the reversal of years of exodus must still be seen as a positive development for Iraq.
Let’s hope that these returning exiles will use their foreign experience and their dynamism for the benefit of the new Iraq.