Displaced a second time, residents of Hamam al-Alil camp face the unknown

  • Written by:

HAMAM AL-ALIL CAMP, Iraq — Hundreds of displaced families have left Hamam Al-Alil camp, south of the Iraqi city of Mosul, as authorities continue closing down displacement camps across the country.

People in the camp said they have nowhere to go and are being forced to leave the camp.

“I swear to God, we don’t have a place to live. We didn’t get the time to find a place at all.They (authorities) should have given us a month or two to leave, but they didn’t,” said Um Muhanad, a displaced woman.

“They have written ‘voluntarily return’ on the buses, but it isn’t voluntarily. They are forcing us out. And anybody tells you it is voluntary, they are lying,” she added.

According to the UN’s refugees agency, around 48,000 displaced persons have been informed that the camps where they live will be closed by the end of November.

Humanitarian groups have expressed extreme concern about the fate of families leaving the camps.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs Hamam al-Alil camp, said that thousands were at risk of becoming homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic and at the onset of winter.

“Many come from neighbourhoods that are still totally destroyed and damaged. People are forced to move with little notice and could spend days in transit without access to food, water, shelter and sanitation,” said Samah Hadid, Head of Advocacy, Media and Communications for the Middle East at the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“This trend is incredibly worrying, and we are concerned that the same sort of issues and situations will arise again for those that are currently being forced out of camps at the moment,” she added.

According the Iraqi ministry of migration and displaced persons, returnees will receive food aid for a one-year period in their home areas and will also get an allowance from the ministry.

The ministry also maintains that the displaced people are going home voluntarily.

Khalid Abdulkarim, the head of the ministry’s Nineveh office, said they formed committees that include mayors, tribal leaders, and officers from National Security Service to manage the process and to solve any security issues that would arise during the return of the displaced people.

Some people have been subjected to tribal vengeance and other forms of retaliation in their home towns for their perceived affiliation with the Islamic State group.