Refugees flee water shortage
Former refugees who once fled from war in Iraq are fleeing again..this time from water shortages in Kirkuk.
Sabiha Jala who now lives in the Panja Ali neighbourhood of Kirkuk returned as a refugee 9 years ago.
More than 500 former refugee families live in Panja Ali after returning from Sulaimani and Erbil following the US-Iraq war in 2003.
But they say they suffer from a lack of services such as schools, hospitals and parks and the worst is the water shortage.
“Who can live in the Ramadhan without water?” she said.
“We don’t have even a couple of bottles of water to put in the refrigerator to freeze.”
Sabiha says some neighbourhoods in Kirkuk are able to provide them with water through the public water system for 30-40 minutes once or twice a week.
But some alleys, where she lives in a mud house, do not get even that much water to use.
She now regrets her decision to move back to Kirkuk from Erbil. Sabiha and several other families are now considering leaving to live in other cities like Erbil and Sulaimani.
Muhamid Raheem, 45, has returned to Chamchamal where he once lived as a refugee.
“If there was a house of a political official in our street then we’d have services,” he said.
Azad Nabil, 27, left Panja Ali several weeks ago. He said his family could never have a shower while living in Kirkuk because of the lack of water.
“If it continues like that all the refugees will return to Erbil and Sulaimani,” he said.
Panja Ali Neighbourhood Council has confirmed that five families have left the neighbourhood because of the water shortage and have had to sell their homes cheaply.
Abdulqadir Amin, Director of the Water Distribution Office in Kirkuk, says the main reason for the water shortage is that the neighbourhood is expanding and the water supply from the Leilan Well is not enough to supply everyone.
He says a new water project is due to be completed next year. Meanwhile water is sent into the neighbourhoods in tankers each day.
A member of the Kirkuk Provincial Council’s Services Committee, Azad Sabir, admits Kirkuk has a water shortage problem.
“It’s not all the neighbourhood of Panja Ali, it’s just some alleys,” he said.
“We try to provide them with water. However until the Kaiwan water project is finished the water problem will not be solved.”
Omed Sami - Kirkuk Now