Over 1,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the southern province of Najaf are to receive financial aid in return for leaving an IDP camp 20km south of Najaf city.
“It has been decided by the Ministry of Displacement and Migration and Najaf provincial council to offer an amount of five million Iraqi dinars [about US$4,250] to each family in al-Manathira camp to help them return to their houses or find new places to live,” Mashkour al-Mousawi, head of the Ministry’s Najaf office said.
Al-Mousawi said 126 out of 213 families (1,278 individuals) in the camp had asked to return to their homes due to the improved security situation and would get their payment before the end of the month. The remaining 87 families had demanded more than the allocated amount, al-Mousawi said.
In July the local authorities said a committee had been established to check the files of those families claiming to be IDPs - to weed out bogus claimants. However, once the news reached the camp, the families started a sit-in which lasted many days and complicated matters.
“There was no pressure from any quarter to force these families to leave the camp against their will,” al-Mousawi told IRIN. “They are just fed up with camp life.”
Al-Mousawi said the authorities would offer free transport to those wishing to return to their homes - mainly in Sunni-dominated areas north, west and south of Baghdad, but he ruled out any increase in financial assistance.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A map of Iraq highlighting Najaf city in An-Najaf Province
IDPs in poor shape
The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) in Najaf has praised the move, saying it will help the families concerned and allow the authorities to focus on about 6,000 IDPs scattered throughout the province.
“Despite the fact that some families are living in fibreglass caravans, the situation in the camp has deteriorated. People there need psychological and health rehabilitation,” Dhia Zoain, the IRCS head in Najaf, told IRIN.
“The government aid will allow them to re-start their lives in their home areas and help us to focus on other IDPs in the province,” Zoain said, adding that since the camp was set up in mid-2006 the IRCS had been contributing financial, food and non-food assistance.
Ali al-Khafaji, a 38-year old father-of-three, one of the IDPs who had asked for increased aid, said the amount being offered was not enough, given the high cost of land and construction materials: “This amount can’t help us. We presented a request to the authorities and parliament to increase the amount to at least seven million Iraqi dinars [about $5,950] to help us rebuild our damaged houses.”
Iraq has an estimated two million IDPs and a further two million Iraqis live abroad as asylum-seekers or refugees.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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