Culture

Iraq's Duhok Province welcomes positive impact made by refugees

Iraq

Displaced Iraqis from other regions of the country to the northern Duhok Province have made a positive contribution to the local economy.

While displacement and the increase number of displaced people usually creates a crisis and burden on host cities and countries, residents of Duhok Province in northern Iraq say that the movement of Iraqis into their city has slowly shifted into becoming a positive phenomenon.

After ISIS’ attack on the city of Mosul and the wider Nineveh Province, thousands of Iraqis fled from their homes into the nearby Duhok Province. This caused the number of displaced Iraqis to be almost one-third of the population of the Kurdish-majority region. According to some estimates, for every two citizens of Duhok, there is a displaced person seeking refuge in the province.

Initially this caused tension between the residents. However, the communities have now been able to merge, resulting in the economic development of the province.

“There is no difference between those displaced and the residents of the region, we are looking for high-quality products, and workers who stay engaged at work,” said Ayad Hassan, the head of the Duhok Trade Room. “These things have served both the economy of Duhok Province and its private sector.”

The relationship between the citizens of Duhok and Mosul is not new. Many Moslawi merchants moved to Dohuk Province during earlier periods and established themselves with local partners there. “I left Mosul in 2005 due to poor security conditions within the city. I settled in Dohuk, practised my business, and established a company inside the province,” said Mujahid al-Nuaimi, a merchant from Mosul living in the province. “I have partners in a second shop that manufactures household appliances in Duhok.”

The relationship between displaced Iraqis and locals in Duhok is not built on business alone. Civil society organisations in Duhok have helped establish psychological rehabilitation centres for displaced Iraqis, in addition to other humanitarian facilities.

According to UN estimates, at the peak of the displacement crisis in 2016, over 3.5 million Iraqis were displaced.

While this number has decreased due to the return of citizens to their homes, those who remain displaced have been able to adapt to the culture of their hosts, both benefitting and enriching the social fabric of their ‘second homes’.