Millions of Iraqis are still destitute one year since the Iraqi government declared victory against the so-called Islamic State group. Too many of them are homeless or in camps they are not allowed to leave. This makes them unable to rebuild their lives.
More than 1.8 million Iraqis are today still displaced across the country. A staggering 8 million require some form of humanitarian aid. Thousands of children born under IS rule are still unrecognized by the state. In the last three months a third of the displaced people who returned home from just one camp in Anbar were rejected by their local communities and had to relocate again elsewhere.
"If this is what 'victory' looks like, then there is little to celebrate for millions of Iraqis still haunted by the crimes of the IS and the long war to eliminate it. They have largely been forgotten by their own government and the international community," said Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary General Jan Egeland. "We work with thousands of ordinary Iraqi women, children and men for whom untold suffering continues, and yet the world seems to act as if Iraq is back to normal. In reality, besides the abject poverty the displaced are living in, thousands face collective punishment for having been at the wrong place at the wrong time, even if they're just children."
While violence and fighting have decreased considerably over the last year, nearly two thirds of displaced people have said they are unwilling or unable to return home in the next year. More than half of them had their homes damaged or destroyed. Entire cities like Mosul and Sinjar are still in rubble.
The Iraqi government, together with the international community, particularly members of the coalition, has a responsibility to ensure that Iraq is on a path towards inclusive recovery and reconstruction. This means the rights of displaced people-like all Iraqi citizens-must be respected, for them to be able to rebuild their lives where they choose.
NRC has spokespeople available in Iraq and in the region.
B-roll with interviews with displaced people in camps and soundbites from NRC can be downloaded for free use here (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/13j3dulha06l0k6/AACEA6dsclWn0ollJ7FIelGca?dl=0).
Photos and case studies can be downloaded for free use here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/Iraq/2018/Returns-in-Kirkuk -Hawija/).