Available in print at Heinrich Boell Foundation - Middle East Office in Beirut
Displacement has been an unfailing feature of recent Iraqi history. During the last thirty to forty years, substantial numbers of Iraqi civilians fled their homes compelled by war, uprisings, and government - directed policies of ethnic cleansing and systematic forced resettlement. The US-led invasion of April 2003 began under the projection of mass displacement. Aid agencies and human rights organizations warned, and governments throughout the Middle East feared, that the invasion risked triggering a massive exodus of Iraqis. This, however did not materialize immediately. It did, however in subsequent years and with great force. As the security and political climate destabilized in Iraq, the violence that ensued triggered a massive wave of displacement, both within the country and outside. Iraqis found themselves forced to relocate in search of security. From conversations and interviews with Iraqi refugees in Europe and throughout the Middle East and those internally displaced within Iraq, it is clear that many dream to return to their homeland. Those who express hesitation fear they no longer belong in Iraqi society or risk targeting if they return. In either case, it is equally clear that the vast majority of Iraqis living outside of their homeland does not think that it will be safe enough to return in the near future. Today it is not that Iraqis do not want to return home, it is that many cannot due to targeting or continued instability. Exile is no easier, asylum policies are often characterized by ambivalence. The process can be one of disorientation, disqualification and disintegration leaving one with stark questions of, “Who am I?”. “Who are We?”. Loss of identity, control of one’s environment and uncertainty of future compound the situation and must be addressed. offline:events in collaboration with independent Iraqi artists, filmmakers, and authors are documenting the lives of Iraqis navigating the space between home and exile.