Baghdad: Iraqi security forces will announce a deadline next month for squatters to get out or be evicted from homes of people forced to flee sectarian violence in Baghdad, a military spokesman said on Sunday.
Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for the Iraqi military in Baghdad, said kicking out squatters to allow refugees to return was vital to restoring security in the capital.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates two million Iraqi refugees are living abroad, mostly in neighbouring Jordan and Syria. More than 2.5 million are internally displaced.
A number of mixed neighbourhoods in Baghdad and other cities saw cleansing of Sunni Arabs or Shi'ites during the height of Iraq's sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007.
Officials say a sharp drop in violence has encouraged some refugees to return home - only to find their homes occupied.