ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Efforts to re-establish security and services in liberated areas should begin instead of the forced expulsion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from displacement camps to their hometowns in ruins, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official said on Wednesday.
Dindar Zebari, the KRG’s Coordinator for International Advocacy, said in a statement that the autonomous Kurdish government supports the voluntary return of IDPs only after assistance is provided for them in their areas of origin.
“Security, instability, and explosives left over after the war [against the Islamic State] make it difficult for IDPs to return,” Zebari said.
“Providing a haven, clean of explosives left behind by ISIS, and the provision of services such as water, basic health services, electricity, and education should be prioritized before the IDPs return to their homes,” he added.
The KRG official also emphasized that “effective coordination is needed between the KRG, the governorate’s offices, and the federal government [of Iraq] to provide better services in the liberated areas.”
Through a decision from the Ministry of Interior – which international agencies supported – the KRG will assist in “the vulnerary return of IDPs in the Kurdistan Region to their homes, regardless of religion or ethnicity,” Zebari stated, adding the decision to return or not is up to the displaced persons.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared a “final victory” over the so-called Islamic State in December 2017 when Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country, three years after the militant group overran about a third of Iraq's territory.
Following the military victory over the extremist group, hundreds of thousands of IDPs began to return to their homes. However, over the past two years, those same displaced persons have come back to camps in Kurdistan after unsuccessful attempts to return to their areas of origin.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany