“We Defeated Death, We do not Go Back”

March 8, 2017 at 1:27 pm

October 2016. An IDP camp in Kirkuk. Photo: KirkukNow

Samir Shakir and his family – that consists of 25 people – prefer to live in the refugee camps of Khazir instead of going back to their destroyed house in Mosul where their lives “will be in danger”.

Samir is from the Somer neighbourhood located on the left side of Mosul which was retaken by the Iraqi forces two months ago.

Samir told KirkukNow, “There are military forces in Mosul, and they attack the houses at night of those having relations with the Islamic State (ISIS). They take them and kill them. There are neither jobs nor services. Return to where? Here is better.”

Samir’s statement comes after he returned to Mosul several weeks ago in order to see whether they should live in the IDPs camps or return home.

Mosul. March 4, 2017. A neighborhood in Mosul after it has been retaken by the Iraqi forces. Photo: Fzil Horami

Abdulla Ali, who is from Al-Zahra neighbourhood, told his family that it would be better for them to stay in the camps because, “Our house has been partially damaged by a bomb, and it needs reconstruction.”

“No one has a guarantee about the safety of their lives there because as they say, there are military forces there that attack on the houses in night,” Samir said.

The story of Samir is the same story of dozens of other displaced people from Mosul. Even two months after the retaking of the area, they are still not ready to go back.

Abdulla Ali is from the Al-Zahra neighbourhood. He and his family are one of the families who have not yet returned back to their home. “There is no service, and the military forces are treating the citizens badly,”Andulla Saeed said.

Since the operation on the right side of Mosul started, the number of the IDPs has increased.

According to data from the United Nations, up to 250.000 people are estimated to be displaced from the right side of Mosul. There are some 750.000-800.000 people in the province.

Khazir camp. Home of thousands of IDPs. Photo: Balqis Weeli/ Human Rights Watch.

Rizgar Ubed, the supervisor of the Khazir camp that is part of Barzani Charity Foundation, stated that “Even the families, who had returned to their homes after their areas were retaken, have now returned to the camps once again.”

However there are thousands of families who have returned to their locations regardless of the dangers. Up to 65.000 people of some 286.000 have returned to their areas since the operation to retake Mosul started, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement.

On March 3rd, the head of the civil organization of Mosul told KirkukNow that, “The human rights situations are not stable in the area since there are many different military forces in the province. Citizens are unjustly arrested, and their wealth is taken. What is happening now in the province tells us that Mosul is not suitable for living, so more people will be displaced.”

February 25th, 2017. Mosul. A displaced family reaches the areas under the control of the Iraqi forces. Photo:Fazil Horami

He also said that, “The lack of services and water shortages results in the people staying in the camps rather than going back.”

The return of the IDPs is dangerous because since the emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS), more than 4 million citizens have been displaced, and only 1.650.000 of them have since returned to their areas, according to the Ministry of Migration and Displacement.

On March 4th, the Barzani Charity Foundation that supervises part of the IDP camps in Khazir, announced that 7.000 people have arrived at the camps in only 72 hours.

The displaced people are afraid of going back. Despite this, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi decided to establish a committee to investigate the violence and brutalities in Mosul earlier this year, but it has not reached any conclusions so far.




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