Iraq News
Security

Rate of return accelerates for Fallujah displaced

By Khalid al-Taie

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A resident of the Anbar province town of al-Karma receives aid after returning to his home. [Photo courtesy of the Sunni Endowment]

Since the beginning of September, hundreds of families have returned to their homes on the outskirts of Fallujah after having their identities verified by the Iraqi authorities, officials and residents tell Diyaruna.

"I was displaced with my family in a camp in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, where we spent more than a year in poor conditions," said Bassem Khalil, who recently returned to the town of al-Karma, north-east of Fallujah.

"When our areas were liberated from the terrorists, we saw that as a good sign that our return was near, and we are home now," he told Diyaruna.

"We have closed the terrorism chapter and our displacement situation is over," he said, referring to the occupation of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL). "We want to live safely and rebuild our beautiful city."

Close to 1,000 families have returned to the outskirts of Fallujah since the beginning of September, said Anbar provincial council security committee member Rajeh Barakat al-Aifan.

"Four hundred displaced families have returned to al-Karma, 300 to the town of Saqlawiya (north-west of Fallujah), and 200 families to the villages of al-Nasaf, al-Hasi and Albu Aifan to the south of the city," he told Diyaruna.

Most returning families had been living in displacement camps in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, he said, until the "local government brought them back and provided them with services in co-operation with the security forces".

Their return is "a good start", he said, adding that more families are expected to return in the coming weeks as life slowly begins to return to normal.

Resumption of services

Displacement camps in Ameriyat al-Fallujah and al-Khalediya received nearly 13,000 families from Fallujah and its outskirts during the liberation of the city, said Anbar migration department director Mohamed Rachid.

"After Fallujah was fully retaken from the terrorists' grip at the end of last June and cleared of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), we started bringing back the displaced to the city's outskirts," he told Diyaruna.

The process is going "smoothly", he said, noting that water and electricity services have resumed and oil derivatives are now available.

Some residents also have started returning to the centre of Fallujah, he said.

So far, more than 59,000 people have returned to their homes in Anbar province, according to the Ministry of Displacement and Migration.

These include 41,255 families who have returned to Ramadi, 7,190 to Heet, 1,535 to al-Rutba and 1,271 to Haditha, the ministry said.

Rachid said he hopes all displaced residents will be able to return to their homes in Anbar this year.

"We are making sure to meet all of the displaced families' needs, help them end their displacement condition, and enable them to resume their former life," he said.

Al-Karma residents return

Al-Karma has started to see the return of its displaced population, especially those who sought refuge in centres elsewhere in Anbar and in Baghdad, mayor Ahmed Mukhlif told Diyaruna.

"We have prepared a large waiting hall where the names of those returning are checked by a special security team, and within an hour or two the returning family is given the required security clearance and allowed to return," he said.

Al-Karma's local administration is currently pumping drinking water, and local power generators have started to work, he added, noting that the process of providing services to all areas is ongoing.

"The resumption of all services requires time and co-operation by everyone, and we will make our utmost efforts to rehabilitate all the facilities and infrastructure ruined by the terrorists," Mukhlif said.

"We have in recent days held field visits to inspect the conditions of returning families," he said. "They were generally satisfied and happy to be back, and expressed their wish to assist in the efforts to reconstruct and ensure the stability of their areas."

The number of families returning to the town is likely to grow, he said.

"There are many displaced families who have been living in rented homes and are now waiting for their leases to expire," he said.

Other families have postponed their return until their children sit their examinations, he said, adding that "the pace of return will accelerate" in the coming weeks.

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May Allah protect Fallujah and keep terrorism away from it!

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