ERBIL, Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – The Kurdistan Region will likely deal with the upcoming displacement from western Mosul without alleviating the burden of managing the current hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
According to the Operation Inherent Resolve ground forces commander, Iraqi security forces are close to recapturing western Mosul from the Islamic State (IS).
“Iraqi troops, with coalition support, are making significant progress every day,” Army Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin reported on Wednesday.
“It’s only a matter of time before they liberate the rest of Mosul and defeat IS in Iraq,” he added.
This creates complications for the Kurdistan Region as an estimated 500,000 people in western neighborhoods of Mosul remain trapped in the city, waiting for an opportunity to flee.
There are serious concerns for the protection of civilians in west Mosul, where food, water, medicine, and fuel are running increasingly low.
This suggests they will need urgent relocation to camps with the capacity to respond to their humanitarian needs.
As of April 18, 2017, the number of people from Mosul displaced to the Region reached 164,000.
They represent about 40 percent of people who are currently living in displacement because of the military operations to retake the city.
A report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq found that “in the long-term, 98 percent of IDPs [from Ninevah] are determined to return to their location of origin.” Nevertheless, only 176,304 people have returned to their “areas of origin” in Ninevah, according to the report.
Approximately 41,000 IDPs, or 8,500 families, have returned to Mosul from the Kurdistan Region.
Regarding the matter of IDPs, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Interior Minister Karim Sinjari addressed attendees at the Migration and Displacement in Iraq conference at the University of Kurdistan Hewler on Wednesday.
Sinjari said the KRG does not expect the 1.3 million IDPs in Kurdistan to return in large numbers to their areas once the insurgents are driven out of Mosul.
He added there is no trust left between the components in Iraq because of the war against IS and sectarian policies.
Exacerbating matters are concerning reports of suspected extra-judicial killings of people accused of having joined the militants in Mosul.
According to Reuters, bodies are washing up along the Tigris River in northern Iraq with their hands bound, eyes blindfolded, and a bullet to the back of the head.
“Most of it is score-settling,” said an intelligence officer in Qayyara.
Others believe the perpetrators might be those who were harmed by IS exacting justice now that the territory is under government control.
Moreover, the IOM found when it comes to IDPs returning home “the main obstacles…appear to be the lack of financial means and a shelter to return to.”
Reporting by G. H. Renaud
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany