Militants leave no space to rest
New wave of displacement returns in Kirkuk

August 22, 2018 at 9:53 am

Kirkuk, 4 October 2017, Displaced families from Hawija reach Maktab Khalid in the southwest of Kirkuk. Photo: Soran Muhammad

Kirkuk, 4 October 2017, Displaced families from Hawija reach Maktab Khalid in the southwest of Kirkuk. Photo: Soran Muhammad

Kirkuk – KirkukNow
Abdulla Obeidi did not rest much in his village after the liberation process when he was, once again, forced to move as militants started to threaten his family again.
Obeidi, like many others, used to live in a village in the environs of Riyadh of Hawija district in Kirkuk. He returned to his village last year after the Iraqi forces recaptured it. Few months passed by and he once again found himself displaced.

Residents from the south and southwest of Kirkuk suffer from daily doses of violence form the militant pockets in their suburban areas.
While urging his people to take part in maintaining the security of their town, Obeidi complained, “There is no one else to seek refuge to.”
He suggested deploying security officers who are from the region, to manage the dossier easier.

Hawija, October 2017, the battle to recapture the town ruins Hawija. Photo: KirkukNow

Hawija, October 2017, the battle to recapture the town ruins Hawija. Photo: KirkukNow

Dozens of horrific attacks have been reported in the Kirkuk province recently, including armed attacks, murder, abduction of civilians and house detonations.
KirkukNow learnt many families have left their residence once again for safer places.
The spokesman of Arab Council in Kirkuk Hatam Ta’e confirmed that a new wave of displacement is taking place in Kirkuk, “Certainly when people do not feel safe and terrorism and murder return, people flee.”

He recalled their prior request to deploy further security forces in the area before the return of people.
The Islamic State (ISIS) militants captured Hawija district, southwest of Kirkuk, in 2014 along with four nearby towns. The Iraqi forces recaptured these areas in September 2017.
While reemergence of terrorism is one factor behind the new wave of displacement, Sheikh Hasan Nu’emi, a resident of Hawija cites the shortage of essential services as water and employment are significant factors as well. “The security forces have asked us not to farm the agricultural lands so they won’t become a hiding place for terrorists, while no other source of income has been provided to farmers,” he said.

Kirkuk, July 2018, The Iraqi forces conduct a search operation in the surrounding villages. Photo: Federal Police Command

Kirkuk, July 2018, The Iraqi forces conduct a search operation in the surrounding villages. Photo: Federal Police Command

While ISIS militants do not wage direct attacks on the security forces, they use suicide bombers and planted bombs to do so. The militants no longer control any area in Iraq, but the latest UN report in August 2018 claims the presence of 20 to 30 thousand ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi forces have conducted dozens of operations in Kirkuk and its environs, without ever securing stability.
Obeidi fled his town in the mid-2014, and twice in 2018. He is waiting to hear the news of his village’s security so he can return forever.

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