Al-Hawija's displaced to return home
By Khalid al-Taie
An agreement has been reached to end the crisis of the displaced population from the city of al-Hawija in Kirkuk province, an Iraqi tribal leader told Diyaruna Monday (June 18th).
Tribal dignitaries and leaders from al-Hawija have come to an agreement with security leaders to return internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas of residence in al-Hawija within a month, al-Hawija tribal forces commander Sheikh Wasfi al-Asi told Diyaruna.
The agreement follows a series of meetings during which the two sides discussed ways to facilitate the return of residents who were forced to leave their homes and farmlands during the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) rule of al-Hawija, he said.
It guarantees the return of all IDPs, the majority of whom reside in camps in Kirkuk province.
The number of IDPs is estimated at more than 6,000 families, distributed in three camps in Kirkuk: Daqouq, Lailan 1 and Lailan 2, said al-Asi.
Camp Tal al-Sibat in the Salaheddine province also currently hosts about 1,800 families from al-Hawija, he said, adding that some families are in camps near the city of Mosul.
All camps will be closed, except for one which will house families of ISIS elements.
"We need time to process these families’ cases and reach a decision regarding their return," al-Asi said.
'Al-Hawija is safe'
Most of the IDPs are residents of remote villages in areas such as al-Rashad, Riyadh and al-Abbasi, in southern and western al-Hawija.
"Security and tribal forces seek to encourage these IDPs to return by reassuring them and dispelling their fears of remaining terrorists," said al-Asi.
Al-Hawija is safe and security forces and tribesmen are hunting down remaining ISIS elements through ongoing search missions, he said.
"[ISIS elements] are few and are always on the move as a result of our pursuit of them," he added.
Another obstacle impeding the return of IDPs to al-Hawija is poor public services, particularly in relation to agriculture, he said.
This presents a challenge which local authorities are striving to overcome, he said.
"The people's return is a necessary factor for the stability of any area, as they contribute to supporting security efforts," he added.