Iraqi Displaced Face Hardships Despite End to Hawija Military Operation
Erbil – In the wake of the Iraqi Government’s announcement on 5 October that the town of Hawija and its surrounding areas have been retaken, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix reported that more than 33,000 people have been displaced since the launch of the offensive two weeks ago; of these, more than 15,200 are still displaced and 17,700 have returned to their homes.
Iraqi forces on 21 September began military operations against ISIL’s final holdouts in central Iraq – in Hawija district of Kirkuk, and Shirqat in Salah al-Din – which were seized by the group in 2014.
According to DTM’s latest data, most of the newly displaced from Hawija and Shirqat were moved to camps and emergency sites located in the three governorates of Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din.
In the past two weeks, Ziyad Khalas, IOM’s Information Management Officer at Haj Ali emergency site, oversaw the registration of more than 6,700 individuals (over 1,300 families). “In anticipation of an influx of new internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Hawija and Shirqat at our site, we prepared hundreds of tent plots and confirmed medical supplies,” Khalas said.
However, Khalas added that in this humanitarian emergency context, challenges are inevitable because “many displaced people, especially women and children, are malnourished and need special care from the first moment.”
As of 4 October, 30,156 individuals (6,538 families) are living at Haj Ali emergency site. All displaced families at Haj Ali are provided with a tent, a core relief package and access to medical services.
“We fled along with other families at night and walked more than eight hours to reach the checkpoint area, then we were transferred to Haj Ali emergency site,” said Um Enes, who began the trek with her two children in the first week of the operation.
Um Enes is one of the dozens of newly displaced people attending IOM’s medical centre at Haj Ali site for treatment, after not having access to proper food and health care for nearly three years.
Another visitor to the medical centre is Hannan, who fled from Hawija with her eight children – four boys and four girls.
“We just ran. We left everything behind. We brought only the clothes we are wearing. I haven’t showered for a week because I do not have other clothes to change into,” Hannan said about their hasty escape from Hawija.
“That night, my children and I walked for five hours along with thousands of other people. In the rush of families fleeing the area, my husband became separated and ended up in Kirkuk.
“My 7-year-old son Ziad was hit by a bullet when we were running, then, even with his injury he had to walk. He is injured and needs surgery soon,” said Hannan, sitting next to Ziad, who has a urine bag attached to him.
The latest wave of IDPs comes in addition to 102,708 people previously identified by IOM’s DTM as displaced from Hawija between August 2016 and 20 September 2017 due to earlier military operations.
Wijdan, recently displaced from Hawija, said her 3-year-old son has been in poor condition for four or five months. “For the last two days, he has not eaten anything. He is not able to walk. Health care was not available there. My son is now severely dehydrated and needs urgent help,” said Wijdan, who has two other sons, adding that she had to flee on foot and carry her ailing son.
Wijdan’s husband was killed three years ago and now, since reaching Haj Ali site four days ago, she is on her own: “My mother and brother stayed in Kirkuk. Thank God we are safe in Haj Ali. Here, an IOM doctor treated my three-year-old with intravenous fluid. He will soon be transferred to hospital.”
IOM Iraq DTM Hawija and Shirqat Crisis Displacement Overview, 5 October 2017 can be downloaded at: http://iomiraq.net/article/0/hawija-and-shirqat-crisis-displacement-overview-5-october-2017
Across Iraq, more than 3.2 million Iraqis continue to be displaced due to the current crisis, which began in January 2014. Nearly half live in private settings, while 24 per cent are in camps, and 12 per cent are in critical shelter arrangements (informal settlements, religious buildings, unfinished buildings). Housing conditions of 14 per cent are unknown.
For additional information about displacement in Iraq, see the IOM Iraq DTM website: http://iraqdtm.iom.int/default.aspx
For more information, please contact IOM Iraq: Sandra Black, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org