Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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New Report: Iraqi Authorities Forcibly Return IDPs Despite Security Risks, Slow Reconstruction Pace


Geneva – More than 1.2 million Iraqis are still
internally displaced persons (IDPs), despite military
operations against the Islamic State organization (ISIS)
ending nearly four years ago, a new Euro-Mediterranean Human
Rights Monitor report said.

Entitled “Exiled at
Home”, the report documents the conditions of the
internally displaced Iraqis on a humanitarian level. In
addition to the fact that many of them cannot return to
their homes, IDPs in Iraq suffer an acute shortage of food
and healthy water and other problems related to health and
education.

The report consists of months of research
and documentation carried out by Euro-Med Monitor’s team
in Iraq from August 2020 to April 2021. Based on 20
interviews with IDPs, camp managers and eyewitnesses, the
report reviews the living conditions of IDPs in both
official displacement camps, many of them were closed, and
the living conditions of those scattered in
slums.

Iraq witnessed its highest wave of internal
displacement during the military operations against ISIS
between 2014 and 2017. More than 6 million Iraqis left their
homes because of the military operations to move to
different governorates such as Baghdad, Kirkuk, Anbar,
Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Diyala, and Iraqi
Kurdistan.

The report indicated that from the end of
2017 to the end of 2019, the Iraqi authorities closed many
displacement camps and merged others so the displaced could
return. This contributed to the return of about 4,867,050
displaced people. Meanwhile, the number of those who
continued to move reached around 1,198,940 until
today.

Omar Al-Ajlouni, a legal researcher for
Euro-Med Monitor, said that “not all of the return
operations were voluntary; early forced returns were
reported. Many of the displaced persons upon their return
were unable to live in their homes for multiple reasons,
such as severe damages from battles, or because the
government did not rebuild it, or the slow pace of
reconstruction”.

The report pointed out that the
Iraqi authorities closed the displacement camps in all Iraqi
governorates, except for Anbar Governorate and Iraqi
Kurdistan, which contained thousands of displaced families
across the two regions, living and humanitarian
conditions.

The report listed several reasons why
those IDPs are unable to return to their areas: 1) the
massive destruction of their houses, lands, and properties;
2) the risks related to the security conditions in the areas
and governorates of the original displaced; 3) and not
allowing the displaced families of ISIS members to return to
their areas of origin.

By monitoring the health status
of the displaced, it was discovered that they suffer from
significant problems, such as shortage of medicines for
chronic and common diseases.

There is also a severe
shortage of medicines for skin diseases and a scarcity of
medical devices such as laboratory devices.

In his
testimony to Euro-Med Monitor, A.S. said: “I usually go to
the camp clinic to get treatment, but most existing
medicines are expired. I must go to a private doctor to
treat my daughter, who has fever and diarrhea. She has been
vomiting for seven days, but I cannot go to the doctor
because there is no money. I don’t know what to do or where
to go.”

The report pointed out that the displaced
face a real crisis in terms of food security, water,
education, electric power, availability of fuel, and waste
removal. Together, these problems have caused the
deterioration of the humanitarian situation of the
displaced.
The Coronavirus pandemic has also contributed
to the worsening of the situation, especially at the health
and economic levels, the report said.

The report
recommended the Iraqi government create appropriate
humanitarian conditions for the displaced after closing
their camps, stop the policy of forcible return of the
displaced and the sudden closure of the camps. The Iraqi
government must also protect the displaced returning to
their areas of origin from armed attacks that threaten their
lives and cause repeated suffering of their
displacement.

The international community should
support the existing camps, especially regarding food
security and health care and carry out its duties in
supporting and accelerating reconstruction efforts and
stimulating efforts that value social cohesion and the rule
of law.

To view the report in Arabic, HERE
English
report will be available
soon.

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