Displaced Ezidi families refuse to accept financial aid allocated by the Iraqi government aimed to encourage their return, saying that the incentives are insufficient to reverse the damage inflicted by the Islamic State (IS) group.
The government has decided to give an amount of 1.5 million Iraqi dinars (approximately US$ 1200) to each family willing to return to their home area.
Khodeda Khirto, fled his hometown Shingal (Sinjar) almost five years ago. “They tell us that if we return we will receive a financial assistance of 1.5 million Iraqi dinars. We refuse this offer because it is quite insufficient. Our house has been destroyed; even 10 million is not enough to cover our damages”, he told KirkukNow.
When he fled Shingal, Khodeda left everything he had behind; and now he needs to start from nothing.
“Living in the IDP camp is a much better choice for us,” he said.
An estimated 400 thousand Ezidis were forced to flee after IS fighters swept through Shingal in August 2014; many of them still live in camps.
Ali Sha’bo, manager of an IDP camp on Mount Shingal indicate that no one in the camp has expressed readiness to accept the government incentives because it is insufficient.
A total of 1,064 houses were rehabilitated in Shingal over a two-year period leading to the return of more than 13 thousand displaced Ezidis.
The houses which were severely damaged during the war against the Islamic State group (ISIS) were rehabilitated as part of a larger project funded by the Government of Germany.
According to the Sardasht camp manager, “IDPs who agree to receive the government incentives will be excluded from future aid from the government or the humanitarian organizations as their names will be deleted from the IDP list”. He indicated that the majority of those who accepted the financial aid were of the Arab community.
More than 1.5 million IDPs have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region; 30% of them are from the Ezidi community.
Shingal district commissioner Fahad Hamid says displaced families who had returned to their homes “were encouraged by the projects carried out by foreign organizations, not by the government aid.”
Fahad Hamid indicated that the rehabilitation process in Shingal is moving fast. “If the district’s political issues are resolved, the situation will return to normal,” he stressed.
Shingal, 120 km west of Mosul was overran by IS in August 2014 and was retaken by Iraqi forces in November 2015.
Fahad Hamid emphasized that service projects implemented by foreign agencies have played a major role in persuading displaces Ezidis to return.
According to recent figures an estimated 20,000 families now live in Shingal and its surrounding areas.