Across Iraq, humanitarian conditions have been improving steadily since ISIS militants around the country were defeated. For the first time since 2014, the number of displaced people across the country has gone down, with nearly half the displaced populationreturning to their homes. As a whole, life is returning to cities such as Mosul and Fallujah, which were devastated by ISIS.
The improvement of conditions, however, has not been universal. Many Iraqis continue to linger in camps for displaced people with nowhere to return and no certainty for their future. Many of these people have since gathered in the Salamah Camp for Displaced People south of Mosul, trying to eke out a living and support their families.
Oum Hussein is one such person. She is from the Kasak District of northwest Mosul and her home was destroyed during the battles between ISIS and the Iraqi Security forces (ISF). Being the sole provider for her children, she has since opened a small shop. But she is fighting an uphill battle against both low profit margins and societal attitudes that continue to discourage women for taking an active part in economic life.
Yet, the problem is not restricted to Iraqi women. Many Iraqi men are finding jobs to be unavailable as well. Many of them had taken jobs to help out the war effort or to ease the lives of the displaced during the height of the crisis. With many displaced people returning home and the war at an end, they are finding that their positions are no longer required. Similarly, many others who were employed around companies in Nineveh prior to the ISIS takeover find that they have no jobs to return to. In some cases, this is because their places of work have been utterly destroyed. However, others have simply found themselves excluded from their jobs despite being listed as permanent staff.
Ensuring that the return of the displaced and the reconstruction of Iraqi cities is conducted evenly across the country will be a major priority for Iraq in the post-ISIS era. Although the current trend of returnees is a cause for optimism, the plights of those who remain displaced should not be overlooked.