ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – More than 300,000 residents of Iraq’s Mosul are still displaced, with no homes to go back to two years since the liberation of the city from the Islamic State, said the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on Thursday.
The organization stated that the remaining displaced people of Mosul make up about a fifth of Iraq’s entire displaced population of 1.6 million right now, 1.2 million of which are in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, according to the Kurdistan Region’s Joint Crisis Coordination Center’s (JCC) data.
“For them, the suffering of the war that ended two years ago remains a daily battle for survival,” said Rishana Haniffa, the Iraq Country Director for NRC.
“It’s a disgrace that after two years, thousands of families and children still have to live in displacement camps and in abysmal conditions because their neighborhoods are still in ruins. Some have attempted to return several times but faced a dead end. In spite of the world’s attention two years ago, Mosul’s displaced population has all but been forgotten.”
Iraqi forces with the support of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and the US-led coalition liberated Mosul from the terrorist group in July 2017. Two years later, the city remains mostly in ruins.
According to NRC, about 138,000 houses were damaged or destroyed in the city during the conflict. In West Mosul alone, there are still more than 53,000 houses flattened and thousands more damaged.
Many displaced families have run out of savings and are in debt, surviving on humanitarian aid. Only four percent of them said they intended to return this year, NRC stated.
The loss of ID cards, birth certificates and other essential documentation also remains one of the main obstacles for thousands of families wanting to return.
Without official documents proving their legal identity, displaced Iraqis are deprived of their most basic rights as Iraqi citizens, unable to move freely and barred from owning property, and employment.
“We urge the Iraqi government and the international community to step up reconstruction work so that Iraqis can return to their homes,” Haniffa continued.
“But in the meantime, the authorities can immediately help these families make a giant leap forward by issuing them with their missing documentation that would allow them to plan their return in dignity.”
The residents of Mosul have also pleaded with authorities to recover the bodies of civilians that remain under the ruins of the city following the fight against the Islamic State.
Over the past two years, NRC has repaired and rebuilt houses for more than 5,200 people in Mosul.
The organization stated they had supported more than 6,000 undocumented people to obtain or retrieve civil documents, but the absence of political will and the lack of resources allocated by the government make the process extremely long and cumbersome, blocking them from returning and piecing together their families and communities in the city.
Editing by Nadia Riva