Ninawa launches Sinjar reconstruction plan
By Khalid al-Taie
Ninawa's local government recently launched a plan to accelerate the pace of reconstruction in the province's Sinjar district.
Ninawa governor Najim al-Jubouri announced the plan during a December 14th meeting with a delegation from the district and Yazidi representatives.
Under the plan, "a large portion of the funds allocated for Ninawa will be allocated for rehabilitation and repair of public services and infrastructure in the district", he said.
In the year ahead, he added, the local government plans to build modern housing complexes and "create suitable conditions to attract investment and revive the economy, in collaboration with the local population".
Dire living conditions
Reconstruction activity is not much in evidence in Sinjar, despite improved security following the expulsion four years ago of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
Scenes of destruction are still in evidence at the centre of the district and beyond, with most government buildings and homes still reduced to rubble, Sinjar mayor Fahd Hamed told Diyaruna.
"We are suffering from severe shortages in basic services such as electricity, water and health," he said.
Close to 10 government agencies, including the court and fire station, are operating from alternative locations in the district while they wait for their facilities to be rebuilt, he said.
As for education, there is only one primary school at the centre of the district, and it is serving more than 2,000 students, he said.
Twenty teachers are working without pay due to a shortage of staff, he added.
Hamed expressed hope that the new plan would help expedite development in the district and alleviate the suffering of its residents, who are facing difficult economic conditions "as employment opportunities are all but non-existent".
"We have described all our problems to the governor, and he confirmed that the local government is focused on swiftly bringing life back to the district," he said.
"We are optimistic for what the future brings."
Sinjar needs support
Because of the massive scale of the destruction, only a few displaced residents have returned, said Khadida Joki, the director of the northern administrative area of Sinjar.
In recent years, only 4,500 families have returned to the centre of the district of Sinjar, and around 15,000 families to other parts of the district, he said.
Nearly 300,000 people still reside in displacement camps in the Kurdish region, and close to 2,300 families live in Sardashti camp on the foot of Mount Sinjar.
Following the ISIS incursion, five housing complexes -- al-Qahtaniya, al-Jazeera, al-Adnaniya, Tal Qassab, Tal Bannat -- remain deserted, Joki said.
Rehabilitation operations in the district have so far included drinking water systems and the paving of certain roads, he said, while other service projects and residential homes have not been included in reconstruction efforts to date.
The Iraqi parliament designated Sinjar as a disaster area in April 2016, noted Ninawa provincial council member Khadida Hamo, who is a Yazidi.
Sinjar witnessed "an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy at the hands of the gangs of ISIS", he told Diyaruna, calling on the authorities to focus their attention on the district.
The district is in dire need of national and international support in order to accelerate reconstruction and enable its displaced population to return, he said.
"We support any plan or effort that ultimately leads to ending the suffering of the people and achieves progress in the district," Hamo said.