Nearly 500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) took to the streets of central Baghdad on 14 June demanding the government secure their return to their homes and pay compensation to those with damaged properties.
[Read this report in Arabic]
“We have been displaced for nearly two years now and we don’t see any serious action being taken by the government to end our suffering,” said Emad Taha Ali, a 39-year-old father-of-two who took part in the demonstration in Baghdad’s Jadiriyah area.
Sectarian violence in the summer of 2006 forced Ali, a Shia Muslim, to flee his home in the Sunni-dominated al-Adil area of western Baghdad. Since then he and his family have moved from house to house.
“We demand the government launch a security crackdown against militants in Baghdad’s western areas, just as what happened in Basra and Baghdad’s Sadr City,” Ali said.
Sunni IDP Ajeel Khalil Yawar, who was forced out of his home in the Shia-dominated Shu’la area of Baghdad in 2006, complained that the government deals with the displacement problem as a “de facto” matter and is unable to find a solution.
“Financial and humanitarian aid is not enough, it only serves as morphine to this problem. We want serious action, such as military operations in the areas under the control of the militants, or real political compromises,” Yawar, a 42-year-old father-of-six, said while in the demonstration.
Government slow to act
On the governmental level, the displacement problem continues to be discussed. MP Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, head of parliament’s Displacement and Migration Committee, said he had been lobbying the government to act on the issue but with little success.
|We made numerous calls to the government to help ease this problem but we feel the government pays no serious attention to address this problem.|
“We made numerous calls to the government to help ease this problem but we feel the government pays no serious attention to address this problem, which could take eight to 10 years to be solved if it is left like this,” Zankana told IRIN.
He said that government assistance, whether with financial aid or materials, is not reaching all displaced families, particularly those living outside the country.
Zankana added that he had invited the Minister of Migration and Displacement to discuss the country’s displacement problem.
“We need to have the minister to discuss the appropriate measures and adopt the most effective measures to solve this big problem, which needs a comprehensive and clear policy because they [IDPs] are living in tragic and hard conditions,” Zankana said.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said that more than 4.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes since 2003 due to military operations and sectarian violence. Of these, two million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries - mostly Syria and Jordan – while the rest are IDPs.