Clashes between the Iraqi Forces and ISIS, coupled with the destruction of houses and infrastructure, have led thousands of people from Hawija to leave their land and seek refuge in safer and more stable areas in Iraq.
A coalition of Iraqi forces took part in the operations to liberate Hawija completely. The Iraqi forces led by the Federal Police, Rapid Response Forces and Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) stormed the centre of the town of Hawija and launched the offensive from three axes: the Ghaziya village, southwest of Hawija, the Jabouriya village from the west and the Nafila village from the northwest. Following this, the town was declared completely liberated by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.
These clashes along with other factors pushed civilians out of Hawija fleeing to other cities, such as Kirkuk. Along their way, the Peshmerga runs a security check when transferring these civilians in case they come across wanted persons or ISIS members. Once cleared, these civilians receive food, water and shelter in the camps.
Displaced people in these camps, however, live in extremely poor conditions. People came with nothing but their personal belongings. Camps lack facilities, clean food, water and electricity. Civilians also complain about a lack of hygiene in these camps, which may lead to the spread of contagious diseases. Further, most of the displaced people are short of money and are not able to purchase such basic necessities on a regular basis.
According to the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, the fighting in Hawija has displaced 9000 people with most being transported to Peshmerga-controlled areas in Kirkuk. However, the ministry said that 3000 people have been transported to Mosul for possible links to ISIS.
Hawija had been an important stronghold for ISIS, especially after their losses in Mosul and Tal Afar. After the liberation of Hawija, ISIS is now in large part limited to areas along the border with Syria, as the group has continued to experience severe losses in the second half of 2017.