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Sustainable Reintegration in Iraq – fear of stigmatisation emerges as a key psychosocial challenge faced by Iraqi returnees

Men sitting around a desk in Baghdad.
Fear of stigmatisation - rather than stigmatisation itself - emerges as a key psychosocial challenge faced by Iraqi returnees © ETTC

Implemented by the Finnish Immigration Service, the ERRIN Facility project “Sustainable Reintegration in Iraq” tackled the key psychosocial challenges faced by Iraqi returnees. 

The research activity in Baghdad, conducted by Seefar, sought to identify and understand the psychosocial challenges and potential stigmatisation issues returnees face upon coming back to Iraq. The recommendations are based on findings from desk-based research and focus group discussions with 60 returnees, their families and other key stakeholders. The outcomes of the study lay a groundwork for a prospective campaign that could facilitate creating a more enabling environment for people returning to the Baghdad region.

Key Findings

  • Consistent with the literature, research subjects reported broad psychosocial needs before, during and after return.
  • Psychosocial services were largely unavailable to research participants despite widespread anxiety, depression, and experiences of trauma. In the few cases where available, services were limited to a one-time session.
  • Fear of stigmatisation – rather than stigmatisation itself – emerged as a core influence on behaviour and mental health during reintegration experiences.
  • Social networks were identified as key facilitators or inhibitors of reintegration experiences. However, whilst most participants reported a positive short-term influence from networks upon return, they also said there was neutral long-term influence.
  • While research participants reported few challenges in formal access to education and healthcare, adjustment and quality barriers impact their ability to benefit from these services.
  • Returnees faced clear barriers to livelihoods upon return and whilst not necessarily a barrier to reintegration, it sits as a cause for re-migration.
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