ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq's Ministry of Construction and Housing (MoCH) is rebuilding Ezidi shrines, administrative headquarters, and roads in Nineveh Province’s city of Sinjar (Shingal), in what the ministry called a ‘major campaign,’ on Thursday.
“As per an order by the Directorate of Public Municipalities, the Shingal Municipality is implementing a major public service campaign in the center of the district,” read a statement released Thursday.
According to the statement, the rebuilding process is now starting “in the center and the outskirts of Shingal District to restore life and services to citizens.”
The Islamic State (IS) overran the predominantly Ezidi-inhabited area in Aug. 2014 in a strategic move, killing and abducting over 15,000 and displacing nearly 50,000 from the district. Those who fled to Shingal Mountain did so with the assistance of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the People's Protection Units (YPG).
In addition to the human cost, destructive acts by IS and the battles to remove the jihadist group from Shingal has left most of the city in rubble. The group enthusiastically destroyed shrines and ancient historical sites related to the Ezidi religion, something they saw as a way of “eliminating Shirk (polytheism)” in their ideological fervor.
In November of 2015, Peshmerga forces liberated Shingal with the support of the PKK, YPG, and Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) member airstrikes.
Though it has been years since IS's ouster, a severe lack of basic services, stability, and government efforts to revitalize the region have kept its population from returning to their homes.
Shingal Mayor Mahma Khalil told Kurdistan 24 in early 2017 that a plan had been arranged and handed over to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the international community to rebuild the city, but that it required "a large budget which currently cannot be afforded by the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) or by the Iraqi government."
Said the MoCH statement, the services to be provided include “the opening of roads, removal of debris, cleaning up of waste, and rehabilitation and reconstruction of Ezidi shrines located in Shingal Mountain, in addition to installing staff in governmental offices.”
Editing by John J. Catherine