Three years after end of ISIS war, Kirkuk’s Riadh subdistrict still lays in ruins

Kirkuk, January 2021 – Children in Mura village in Riadh subdistrict play among ‎ruins of destroyed homes – photo: Karwan Salehi‎

Karwan Salehi - Kirkuk

Deprived of most basic services, residents of the villages in Kirkuk’s Riadh subdistrict have been requesting the Kirkuk administration for compensations and rebuilding the infrastructure.

Most of the villages in Riadh subdistrict (located 33 km south of Kirkuk City in Hawija district) were destroyed in the ISIS war and are still lay in ruins: houses are destroyed, no electricity and water provision, and part of their inhabitants are displaced.

A group of people staged a protest in the village of Mura in the subdistrict on 14 January 2021 to demand services.

There are bombs in our fields, so we can’t plough them

“Our lives depend on farming, but there are bombs in most of our fields, so we can’t plough them,” said Khalid Hussein Alo, one of the residents of Mura.

Alo’s request for the government is to compensate the villagers so they can rebuild their normal lives. “Nothing has been done for us until now. If things continue like this, we will not be able to continue living here.”

The Riadh subdistrict was taken over by ISIS in June 2014, until it was retaken by Peshmerga and forces of the Federal Government in October 2017.

Ahmad Abdulla, the commissioner of Mura village, told KirkukNow that their village was completely destroyed in the fight between Peshmerga forces and ISIS and by airstrikes by the International Coalition. “The government has not provided us with any help. We don’t even have electricity and drinking water.”

“This region needs more services because its inhabitants are victims of ISIS and have been displaced,” Abdulla said. He added that only 20 of 170 displaced families have returned.

The government closed down all the IDP camps in Kirkuk, but some of the displaced who hadn’t taken shelter in the camps have not returned to their home regions.

Khalid Yusif, a resident of Shaheed settlement in Riadh, told KirkukNow: “99% of our settlement has been destroyed due to the fight between ISIS and the Peshmerga. We request aid and services, because we don’t even have drinking water.”

300 families lived in the Saheed settlement. Half of them are still displaced.

Khalid Yusif said that they are getting promises from all sides, but nothing is being done.

The Hawija district has been designated by the Iraqi Parliament as a disaster area due to the destruction caused by the ISIS war.

10 villages in our subdistrict were destroyed in the ISIS war

Muhammad Ahmad, the commissioner of Riadh subdistrict, told KirkukNow: “10 villages in our subdistrict were destroyed in the ISIS war. We have sent requests to the Kirkuk Administration, but due to lack of money, only a school has been built in Mura.”

Ahmad says that they are awaiting Parliament to pass the budget bill so that Kirkuk gets its share, and the villages that are completely destroyed can be rebuilt.

He added that their villages also need to be cleared of explosives left from the war.

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