(MENAFN- IANS) Baghdad, Nov 30 (IANS) The Iraqi government has announced the closure of 144 refugee camps out of 170 across the country in the past few years.
"Only 26 camps remained out of 170, and most of the remaining camps are in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan," Xinhua news agency quoted Deputy Minister Karim al-Nouri as saying to the media.
He stressed that most of the displaced people in these camps are residents of the town of Sinjar, some 120 km west of Mosul, capital of the northern province of Nineveh, reports Xinhua news agency.
In Sinjar, several armed groups are competing to control the town despite the government's attempts to regain administrative control over the area.
"The Ministry of Migration and Displaced is determined to end this crisis despite the difficult challenges, so that Iraq will get rid of refugee camps," he said.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, Iraq hosts close to 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers, over 90 per cent of whom live in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
There are over 260,000 Syrians, predominantly Kurdish, in addition to refugees and asylum seekers from Iran, Turkey, Palestine and other countries.
They have been hampered from returning to their homes due to insecurity, lack of livelihoods, and the destruction or damage of their homes.
Currently, more than 1 million Iraqis remain internally displaced by the Islamic State (IS) insurgency, while 5 million others have returned to their areas of origin.
Iraq's plan to close all displacement camps came as the security situation in the country has been dramatically improved after security forces declared full liberation of the country from the IS terrorist group in 2017.
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