Muhammed Hassan Yunis and his family say that they want to return to Mosul in Iraq, but with rents being very high, they currently can’t afford to leave their displacement camp.
Muhammed and his family have been living in the Hammam al-Alil camp for the past three years. They make up some of the over 300,000 Internally Displaced (IPDs) Iraqis from the Western city of Mosul that until two years ago was under the control of Islamic State.
Following a military offensive on the city, the radical Islamic group was pushed out. But two years on, the reconstruction efforts to rebuild homes and infrastructure has been incredibly slow.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, there are 138,000 homes which remain destroyed or damaged in the city, over 53,000 of those are within West Mosul.
4% of Mosul residents would go back this year
Muhammed explains that he would go back but it is a combination of affording the ever increasing rent prices and the lack of support to help those wanting to go back.
‘I tried several times to return to Mosul, but the houses available for rent are either without windows and doors and need rehabilitation or complete but with rent above 200$. My situation does not allow me to afford it.’
According to the NGO REACH (Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health), 78% of those displaced from Mosul reported their home having been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. They also report that only 4% of IDPs from Mosul are intent on going back this year.
Can’t go home
Muhammed’s story is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s latest report on the lacklustre construction efforts taking place in Mosul Iraq.
The Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director Rishana Haniffa, said that, ‘It’s a disgrace that after two years, thousands of families and children still have to live in displacement camps and in abysmal conditions because their neighborhoods are still in ruins. Some have attempted to return several times but faced a dead end. In spite of the world’s attention two years ago, Mosul’s displaced population has all but been forgotten.’
In the meantime, the NRC has called for the government to do more to ensure that registration for identification papers and documentation were sped up to ensure that displaced people and families were ensured their basic human rights.
We could only take our IDs
In an effort to escape from ISIS, Muhammed explains that he and his family initially lived in a bombed out house before moving to a relative’s home, before it was also bombed.
Eventually the family managed to make to the camp, leaving behind everything except for their IDs.
‘Life in the camp is better, for someone who used to live in a rented house here is better, because the tent is free, the electricity is free and so is the food.’
‘We want NGOs and the international community to keep supporting Iraq because the situation is still very bad, especially the areas affected by ISIS,’ Muhammed added.
Photos and Footage: Norwegian Refugee Council