Hundreds of families who were displaced from Diyala’s Tuz Khurmatu district (when the Iraqi army and the paramilitary coalition called PMU or Hashd expelled Peshmerga forces from disputed areas starting in 16 October 2017) have not yet returned, nor have been compensated.
According to official numbers, 17% of those who fled the district have not yet returned; they number about 500 families. The Federal Government doesn’t count them as IDPs.
Hérish Hasan Taha, one of those displaced Kurds who hasn’t returned yet, told KirkukNow: “They burned down our home and never compensated us, that’s why we decided to stay in Slémani [officially called Sulaymania].”
They burned down our home and never compensated us, that’s why we decided to stay in Slémani
Hérish works at a government office in Kirkuk. He has to travel back and forth on a daily basis. His wife teaches at a school in Sulaymania now and vows never to return to Tuz Khurmatu.
One of the issues those IDPs have is that the Federal Government does not recognize them as such and therefore they are not eligible for compensation.
Ali Noori Muhmmad, another IDP, said: “All I had was a shop in Tuz Khurmatu. I lost it and now I am displaced and work as a labourer here.”
Ali has a family of eight and they live in poverty. His eldest daughter was forced to quit school because they were unable to afford the travel costs.
“It is still better to stay here; I can find work every now and then. What can I do if I return to Tuz Khurmatu? I wouldn’t even find work as labourer there.”
What can I do if I return to Tuz Khurmatu? I wouldn’t even find work as labourer there
On 16 October 2017, in Tuz Khurmatu 400 houses were burnt down and 85 others were blown up according to official statistics from the district’s office of the Ministry of Immigration and Displacement.
Ayub Jum’a Jabar, an official at the Ministry, told KirkukNow: “Most of those who haven’t returned are supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which tells its supporters not to return yet. Their houses are empty or blown up, but they haven’t been compensated.”
The Ministry has provided aid to only 250 families that were displaced on 16 October 2017, which is a much smaller percentage in comparison to other IDPs.
Jabar said: “A large number of families haven’t been compensated nor received aid. Those who have family members who were killed or wounded have been compensated.”