IOM Iraq's Sandra Black on CNN Talks about Iraqi Migrants Voluntarily Returning Home from Europe

ALLEN: The International Organization for Migration has helped about 3500 migrants return home from Europe to Iraq, but it says the total number is actually much higher.
 
I'm joined now by Sandra Black, the group's spokeswoman. She is in Irbil, Iraq. Talking with us right now. Sandra, thanks for joining us. This is quite interesting that what we're seeing. But let's talk about the numbers. How many Iraqis fled for Europe, and how many apparently want back in?
 
SANDRA BLACK, IOM SPOKESPERSON: We know that tens of thousands of Iraqis traveled from Iraq into Europe in 2015. There were over 80,000 Iraqis who arrived in Greece by sea alone and thousands more through other countries.
 
An International Organization for Migration facilitates in cooperation with our humanitarian partners arrival and assistance for the return for those Iraqis who choose to return to home country.
 
ALLEN: So, 80,000 at a minimum who left Iraq. And what are the numbers as far as the people that are giving up on Europe and trying to come back? And what is that process?
 
BLACK: In 2015, IOM assisted nearly 3,500 Iraqis to return. We averaged return assistance for 100 Iraqis per month since January to August, but since October we've been helping approximately 800 Iraqis per month.
 
IOM provides voluntary return assistance for Iraqis, but there are most likely thousands more who are choosing to return on their own or through the assistance of other government agencies.
 
ALLEN: When did it become such an issue that your organization reacted perhaps like wait a minute, what's happening? They're coming back.
 
BLACK: We saw an increase in August and September. In this past month, January, we assisted over 800 Iraqis to return, and assistance requests continue to come in at a very high rate.
 
ALLEN: And what are they saying and what does it say about the migration debacle we are seeing in Europe?
 
BLACK: Iraqi migrants tell us they're not finding the situation that they were hoping for in Europe, the job opportunities, the living conditions. They're concerned about the long time frame that their asylum requests take. And in the meantime, many European family members that they want them back home. They need to support their families and come back to work.
 
ALLEN: And because that Europe is so divided over migrants, do you think this is a trend that's going to continue into 2016?
 
BLACK: We are seeing continued very high migration into Europe. In January alone, overall there were 76,000 migrants who arrived in Europe so far this year.
 
So, because of the high levels of migration to Europe, we expect that we will continue to receive high levels of requests of Iraqis choosing to return home.
 
ALLEN: Just almost surreal of the odyssey that they have been on. And good for your group that you're helping them, the International Organization for Migration. Sandra Black talking with us from Irbil. Thank you. We appreciate it.
 

The original article on CNN can be fond here.