Disappointed by lack of essential services in their hometowns, Ezidis choose life in displacement

February 2, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Duhok- A woman and her son walk along an IDP camp muddy pathway Photo: KirkukNow

Ammar Aziz- Duhok

After four years of displacement, Khidir Murad’s family left Sheikhan district and returned to their home in Sinune, Shingal (Sinjar), seeking a better life than the one they had to endure in IDP camps, however that never happened.

In mid-2018 Khidir, his wife and his five children, carrying small packs but much bigger hopes set out on a journey through Mosul and Tala’far back to their hometown Sinune.

Only after 5 months their hopes turned into frustration, as they were disappointed by the lack of essential services and unemployment.

“During those 5 months we had to spend the little amount of money we had with us, and finally we went back to Sheikhan empty-handed”, Khidir told (KirkukNow).

After their return, Khidir’s family settled in an uncompleted house in Sheikhan.

What Khidir’s family went through was just an example of dozens of other Ezidi families who faced the same destiny after they returned to Shingal in the last few months.

Elyas Kaso, who recently returned once again from his hometown to Duhok said, “Unless the situation in Shingal improves in terms of security, public services and employment, more families will be displaced once again.”

Unemployment and poor infrastructure are key obstacles to the return of most of the displaced families

The Ezidi population was subjected to mass murder, kidnappings and displacement, after Islamic State militants controlled Shingal in August 2014. An estimated 350 thousand Ezidis sought refuge in IDP camps in Duhok and Sheikhan, while 100 thousand others fled the country.

Duhok- Despite some difficulties, the education process in IDP camps continue Photo: KirkukNow

There are 21 IDP camps in Duhok and Sheikhan; only in Sheikhan an average of two families return every month.

A’mir Abo Elyas, a Sheikhan IDP camp manager speaking to (KirkukNow), said, “The return of Ezidi displaced families is not solely due to security concerns, but also unemployment and lack of basic services are other major reasons as we have been told.”

Sheikhan district is 45 km north of Mosul and is home to Ezidis’ most sacred place: Lalish Temple.

Fahad Hamid, Shingal district commissioner emphasizes that unemployment and poor infrastructure are key obstacles to the return of most of the displaced families and calls on the Iraqi government to speed up the rebuilding of the town.

“Most of those who return to the Kurdistan Region are young people seeking jobs or university students or those who had better jobs there. Anyone is free to go back to the Kurdistan Region”, he said.

Salim Saeed, head of the media department of Duhok governorate’s humanitarian affairs board stressed that the recent incidents which occurred in Shingal have compelled many Ezidi families to choose life in displacement.

The existence of different armed groups in the area has worsened the security situation in Shingal

On December 23, 2018, Iraqi Popular Mobilization force stationed in the area stormed the headquarters of the Ezidxan Protection Force claiming that the Iraqi government has banned their political activities; however, the force refused to leave. The incident created unrest and relative instability.

Although, the Iraqi government recently reopened a strategic road linking Shingal to Duhok after four years of closure, the move has not encouraged the return of Ezidis.

Salim Saeed indicated that “the existence of different armed groups in the area has worsened the security situation in Shingal.”

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