Talafar (Tal Afar): public services to be restored post-ISIS destruction

Ninewa, March 2022: A street in Al-Muthanna neighborhood in the Talafar. Media of Talafar Municipality

By KirkukNow in Ninewa

“It is not denied that (State) departments in Talafar are seeking to provide services, but they are still below the level of ambition. The streets of the city need to be paved remove the rubble and waste collected here and there, in addition to addressing water shortage in some neighborhoods,” says Hassan Ali, a resident of Talafar.

"It also needs health services, as the public hospital is no longer accommodating, in addition to the lack of many medicines and the lack of many necessary departments, equipment and laboratories."

The district of Talafar, 69 km northwest of Mosul, has been for nearly three years under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS, which killed dozens of its people while the fate of 1,300 of them is still unknown after that it has kidnapped them from the first hours of its control, including Children and women.

Talafar, which has a population of about 450,000 people, is distributed over the city center and three sub-districts: Rabia, Zummar, and Al-Ayadiyah. Majority of its residents are Sunni Muslim Turkmens, while some Arabs and Kurds reside some urban areas and villages.

Daesh committed atrocities in June 2014 when they controlled the town of Talafar. 1300 people were abducted: 700 men, 470 women and 130 children, among them 400-500 in ISIL controlled prisons in Syria, a statement by Turkmen civil society NGOs said last year.

The disputed territories consist of 14 administrative districts, including Talafar, spread across the four governorates of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Diyala in northern Iraq.

Local officials said they are doing their utmost to restore proper public utilities to the war-torn Talafar which will receive extra 13 billion Iraqi dinars IQD (USD9 million) from Baghdad out of blocked allocation during ISIS era.

“With my assumption of the duties of the District Commissioner, I have completed what the previous commissioner and council started,” says Qasim Muhammad Sharif, commissioner of Talafar.

Talafar to receive 13 billion Iraqi dinars, in addition to the two-billion budget of the district within the budget for the development of the regions

"The municipality's work in paving the streets is clearly visible, as the main streets were completely paved after they were subjected to great destruction during the period of ISIS control and military operations, in addition to the development of new streets in some neighborhoods as a result of population expansion," he added.

Sharif revealed to KirkukNow that "Talafar will have a share in the frozen amounts of up to 13 billion Iraqi dinars, in addition to the two-billion budget of the district within the budget for the development of the regions, hoped will implement important projects that contribute to providing better services to citizens."

Ninewa, March 2022: Paving a street in the city center. Media of Talafar Municipality

After the liberation of Talafar from the control of the ISIS, in August 2017, about 60% of the displaced Turkmens, mostly Shiite Muslims, returned home while the others refrained to return, spread in a number of southern and central province, especially Najaf, Karbala and Babylon, Kirkuk Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR in the north, and some families fled to Turkey.

Turkmens are considered the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, residing almost exclusively in the northern towns and villages stretching from Talafar through Mosul, Erbil, Altun Kupri, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, Kifri and Khanaqin. They are half Sunnis and half Shiite.

The local administration, in cooperation with international organizations working in the district, seeks to restore the infrastructure and provide the necessary support to the population in order to encourage the displaced to return to their homes.

"In addition to basic services from the municipality, health, and others, Talafar urgently needs parks to be an outlet for families, as the city lacks places of entertainment," according to Raed Omar, a resident of Talafar.

Omar, 52, believes that "another service that Talafar lacks is the sewage system, along with an army of the unemployed."

We hope the local and central government pay enough attention to Talafar

According to the Talafar Municipality Directorate, "Talafar is the largest district in Iraq, comprising 23 neighborhoods and 30,000 housing units, and when the city fell into the hands of ISIS, it worked to destroy it significantly, as it destroyed its infrastructure, and blew up many citizens' homes, government departments and schools, and shops."

"Daesh has partially destroyed about 5,000 houses, and more than 600 houses were completely demolished, by blowing it up or burning it," estimating "the rate of destruction in Talafar is 35%."

Figures by municipality of Ninewa shows that 90% of the public roads and streets were damaged and destroyed in the war against ISIS. From 2014 throughout 2017.

"We hope to see Talafar take its place that deserves of attention by the local and central government, since it has made many sacrifices and suffered for more than a decade of crises, and it has become necessary to improve services on the ground," Ali wishes.

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