In Salahuddin, Iraq, the displaced are still suffering in camps three years on

Thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Iraq live in squalid conditions. Since the emergence and resurgence of ISIS in 2014, the western and northern provinces of Iraq have been devastated by conflict and the group’s oppressive rule, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Many of these people ended up in under-funded and under-equipped camps across the country.

Many of the camps housing these displaced people (the majority being women and children) lack the most basic services and goods to sustain its inhabitants. Camps typically lack water, food and basic sanitary requirements. Dozens of people are usually crammed into flimsy tents, significantly increasing the risk of diseases spreading.

“Diseases, hunger and injustice. We are thirsty and there is no water. I am sick and I go to the hospital every ten days. I don’t have money and our homes are destroyed”, says this elderly woman who has been displaced for 3 years and is still waiting to return to her home. Her story is like so many others who have suffered the devastation of war.

Repatriation of these hundreds of thousands of civilians will be one of the biggest challenges facing the Iraqi government. The efforts to return civilians to their homes goes hand in hand with the government’s plans for reconstruction in a post-ISIS Iraq. Iraqi Minister of Planning Salman al-Jumaili, said that his country will require a massive amount of funds to rebuild the areas liberated from ISIS control. While he noted that it was too early to arrive at a precise estimate, he estimated the amount would be around $100 billion, adding that this figure “includes all the areas that were damaged during the presence of [IS], either by direct occupation or due to terrorist acts.”

Raad al-Dalaki, chairman of the parliament’s Migration and Displacement Committee, said the number of families repatriated to their hometowns in Nineveh, Salahuddin, Anbar and Diyala does not exceed 50 percent of the total of displaced civilians.