BAGHDAD - Nearly 500 internally displaced
persons (IDPs) took to the streets of central Baghdad on 14 June
demanding the government secure their return to their homes and pay
compensation to those with damaged properties
"We have been displaced for nearly two years now and we don't
see any serious action being taken by the government to end our
suffering," said Emad Taha Ali, a 39-year-old father-of-two who took
part in the demonstration in Baghdad's Jadiriyah area.
Sectarian violence in the summer of 2006 forced Ali, a Shia
Muslim, to flee his home in the Sunni-dominated al-Adil area of western
Baghdad. Since then he and his family have moved from house to house.
"We demand the government launch a security crackdown against
militants in Baghdad's western areas, just as what happened in Basra
and Baghdad's Sadr City," Ali said.
Sunni IDP Ajeel Khalil Yawar, who was forced out of his home in
the Shia-dominated Shu'la area of Baghdad in 2006, complained that the
government deals with the displacement problem as a "de facto" matter
and is unable to find a solution.
"Financial and humanitarian aid is not enough, it only serves
as morphine to this problem. We want serious action, such as military
operations in the areas under the control of the militants, or real
political compromises," Yawar, a 42-year-old father-of-six, said while
in the demonstration.
Government slow to act
On the governmental level, the displacement problem continues to
be discussed. MP Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, head of parliament's
Displacement and Migration Committee, said he had been lobbying the
government to act on the issue but with little success.
"We made numerous calls to the government to help ease this
problem but we feel the government pays no serious attention to address
this problem, which could take eight to 10 years to be solved if it is
left like this," Zankana told IRIN.
He said that government assistance, whether with financial aid
or materials, is not reaching all displaced families, particularly
those living outside the country.
Zankana added that he had invited the Minister of Migration and Displacement to discuss the country's displacement problem.
"We need to have the minister to discuss the appropriate
measures and adopt the most effective measures to solve this big
problem, which needs a comprehensive and clear policy because they
[IDPs] are living in tragic and hard conditions," Zankana said.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said that more than 4.2
million Iraqis have fled their homes since 2003 due to military
operations and sectarian violence. Of these, two million are living as
refugees in neighbouring countries - mostly Syria and Jordan - while
the rest are IDPs.
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