The research presented in this paper was conducted in southern Iraq and examines the impact of returning refugees upon the social infrastructure in communities situated in the administrative governorate of Basrah. For the purpose of this paper the research focused on health, education, and shelter - the most fundamental and essential public services for a population. The paper was written on the basis of a practicum and work experience in the southern Iraqi city of Basrah. I worked for one year for an Italian non-governmental organization (NGO) implementing a repatriation program funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The aim of the work was to facilitate the safe and secure return of Iraqis who had been living in exile in Saudi Arabia and in Iran. My research objective is to assess the public service needs of returnee-affected communities in Basrah governorate. The assessment was conducted through a standardized questionnaire at the village level to identify returnee communities' priorities to meet the needs of the population. This quantitative research is augmented by the use of a qualitative research design to provide a contextual understanding of the situation. This mixed research approach ensures that the findings are descriptive and provide a contextual analysis, while avoiding the undue influence of subjective opinions. To avoid misrepresenting reality - especially regarding the controversial war in Iraq - it is crucial to avoid subjective perceptions and feelings. Moreover, the employed ethnographic methodology adds value to the research conclusions.