Although four and a half years have passed since it was wrested from the hands of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), Ninawa province's Sinjar district still suffers from a paucity of services, a local official told Diyaruna.
"The Iraqi parliament voted two years ago to recognise Sinjar as a disaster zone," Sinjar district mayor Fahd Hamid said Wednesday (April 3rd).
Though this move was intended to kick-start reconstruction, little has been done to repair and rehabilitate the district's infrastructure and services, he said.
"The centre of the district has suffered an estimated 85% destruction level, and the pace of repair of buildings and service areas is below the required level," Hamid said.
The dearth of public services and slow pace of reconstruction in Sinjar means "most of the district's displaced residents are still living in camps in the Kurdish region", Hamid said.
"No more than 100,000 people are now living in the centre of the district and its villages and communities combined," he said.
Around 300,000 displaced Sinjar residents currently reside in the Kurdish region, he noted, while a further 100,000 displaced people from the district have sought refuge outside the country in recent years.
"Some 2,300 families have been living for years in camps built on the summit and at the foot of Mount Sinjar, suffering from the harsh cold in winter and the heat in summer," Hamid said.
Conditions not conducive for return
These people, along with about 14,000 people who currently reside in the town of Sanuni in Sinjar's northern sub-district, are "unable to return because of the devastation of their homes and the fear of explosives", Hamid said.
"There are five housing complexes and 20 villages in the south of the (Sinjar) district that have not yet been fully cleared of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), so we cannot bring back their population," he said.
"There is agricultural land and many vast orchards in the district, but today they are neglected and their owners cannot return and reclaim them because they are not clear of war remnants and unexploded bombs," he added.
"The state of our services is difficult, and we call on the government to exert all its efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people and restore the district to its former state," he said.
Sinjar district is located in western Ninawa, and the majority of its population are Yazidi Iraqis who have suffered serious abuses at the hands of ISIS.