Iraq closes camps for displaced, pushes families into peril | 2019-01-10 |

Iraq closes camps for displaced, pushes families into peril


10th January, 2019 12:56:12 printer

Iraq closes camps for displaced, pushes families into peril


It was a cold and gusty day in December when the army came to the Bzeibiz camp and told families displaced by the war against the Islamic State group that it was time to go home.


The fighting was over, they said, and the camp west of Baghdad was going to be closed.


Some of the families protested that they had no homes to return to. The army said they would be sent to Amariyat al-Fallujah, a remote camp ringed by chain-link fences and barbed wire.


Many families cannot return home, accused by their tribes of collaborating with IS. Others worry there is no work, schooling, or housing to return to. Stragglers are being sent to two tightly-controlled camps deep in the plains of Anbar, where military authorization is required to leave.


When IS militants swept through north Iraq in 2014, they triggered a migration and displacement crisis unprecedented in Iraq's history. Millions fled their homes in the face of the militants' rapid advance; others fled as Iraqi forces, backed by the U.S. and Iran, battled back, ultimately reclaiming the last town in late 2017.


Some 1.8 million people out of Iraq's population of 38 million are still waiting to return to their communities.


Destitute, homeless, and unprotected by the courts, displaced families have borne the brunt of the political and personal score-settling underway in post-war Iraq.


Since liberation, thousands of men have been swept up in arrests for alleged affiliation with IS — more than 19,000 in prison as of March 2018 . Many of them have been pushed through cursory trials lasting only a few minutes that often end in convictions and death sentences.