Iraq News

Services improve as Fallujah residents return

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

Fallujah residents return to their city as services are being restored and life is returning to normal. [Photo courtesy of the Anbar police command]

Fallujah residents return to their city as services are being restored and life is returning to normal. [Photo courtesy of the Anbar police command]

At the same time displaced families started returning home to Fallujah, government institutions in the city resumed their work and schools began registering students for the new school year, which kicked off last week in Iraq.

Since September 17th, hundreds of displaced families have been returning to Fallujah every day under strict security measures to ensure no elements of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) are infiltrating the city.

Fallujah was declared fully liberated in late June after a month-long operation by Iraqi forces aided with international coalition airstrikes, but residents only started returning recently to the city, which was deemed largely uninhabitable due to the vast destruction and mines planted by ISIL.

Services returning

"Life has started to return to normal in Fallujah," mayor Issa Sayer al-Issawi told Diyaruna.

The water and electricity departments have reopened their doors and their workers are back to work, and schools have registered students ahead of the new school year, he said.

Work is also under way to rehabilitate the Fallujah courthouse, while security agencies are enforcing security in the streets, he added.

More than 2,000 displaced families have returned during the last two weeks of September, he said, adding that the pace of return will continue to gradually increase.

"We are now receiving hundreds of displaced families every day after having received only dozens in the first days," al-Issawi said.

Displaced people have been coming back not only to the northern neighbourhoods of Fallujah, but to its southern districts now too after they have been cleared of all war remnants and services have been restored, he noted.

However, al-Issawi said, much more needs to be done to bring back the level of services to what it used to be after all the destruction the city suffered over the past three years.

The return of residents will "expedite" the process, he added, "because the city can only be built with the power of its returning people".

Anbar provincial council security committee deputy chairman Faleh al-Issawi commended all local and international efforts to restore calm and security to Fallujah.

This has contributed to the gradual return of life to the city, he told Diyaruna

"A big city like Fallujah, with a population of about 400,000, is still in dire need of more government support and more international initiatives in order to return to normal," al-Issawi said.

Security measures

"The security situation in the city is fully stable and much better than in other parts of Anbar" and the rest of the country, said Fallujah police chief Col. Jamal al-Jumaili.

"The police have not recorded a single security breach and security units are working to impose the rule of law and the state's authority with full force," he told Diyaruna, calling on "families that still have not done so to return to their city as soon as possible".

Troops from the Iraqi army's 1st Division, three Anbar police emergency battalions and local police elements are in charge of security inside the city, he said.

Tribal mobilisation forces are currently deployed on the outskirts of Fallujah, he said, but "might soon be allowed to be deployed inside the city, in an expected change to the security deployment [plan]".

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