ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Most internally displaced Kurds have not yet returned to their homes in disputed areas after they were displaced following the events of Oct. 16, 2017, acording to a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official.
Adalat Omer, an advisor with the KRG’s board of affairs for disputed territories, on Tuesday claimed that since October 2017, “more than 100,000 Kurds were displaced and resettled in cities in the Kurdistan Region.” He continued “so far, the majority of those displaced have not returned to their homes,” notably those from Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Khurmatu and Sinjar (Shingal).
In response to the Kurdistan Region’s historic September 2017 referendum on independence, Iraqi forces and the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias mobilized against the Kurdish Peshmerga in Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
“Constant attempts at demographic change is seen in the areas that fall within article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, as the remaining Kurds are being pressured by Arabs to leave their home and their land,” Omer stated.
“They are using tactics such as kidnappings, killings, and the burning of their lands, along with their liveluhoods.”
According to Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, the fate of disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad requires a referendum in said contested areas to allow people to decide whether they want to be governed by the KRG or the Iraqi government.
“Prior to October 2017, Kurdish citizens represented 97 percent of the population in some areas. Since the Arabization campaigns have brought in Arabs from central and southern Iraq to occupy Kurdish houses, only 20 percent of Kurds remain in those areas,” the Kurdish official explained.
In recent months many Kurdish communities have been forced to leave their homes because others have made claims on their lands using the same deeds they were given in previous Arabization campaigns enacted during the reign of Saddam Hussein.
Editing by Nadia Riva