Perspectives on Migration from Iraq

In February 2012, IOM conducted a rapid assessment in Erbil to better understand attitudes and perceptions of young people towards migration. The rapid survey of 180 people highlighted some very interesting trends. The survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of interviewees wished to leave Kurdistan, with a significant minority willing to do so illegally/irregularly if necessary. It also showed that many were prepared to pay large sums of money to migrate irregularly as it was regarded as faster and cheaper. Furthermore, it demonstrated that the main motive for leaving Kurdistan was the lack of income/job opportunities. As thought provoking as the results were, they raised more questions than they answered. Is it true that in Iraq’s fastest growing economy young men wanted to leave to find jobs? Is this trend reflected across Kurdish areas and the rest of Iraq? What influences these choices? What do people think of irregular migration? How much do they know about their destination country and what or who informs their opinions on migration?  Many questions remained unanswered. The results were presented to central and international governments’ representatives in Baghdad in March 2012.  Many governments, including the United Kingdom (UK), found the results applicable to their own situations – especially in regards to understanding more about the reasons for irregular migration. Many international and government programs are based on weak, or little research. The lack of data concerning migrants motivations and perceptions, prevents the development of effective policy. Recognising the value of this work, the British government agreed to support a more in-depth survey to better understand the migration dynamics between Iraq and the UK. This research would then be used to develop and improve migration initiatives in Iraq and possible engagement with the Iraqi diaspora in the UK.

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