More than 300,000 residents of Mosul district are still displaced with no homes to go back to, two years since the end of the military operation to retake the city from the Islamic State group. They make up about a fifth of Iraq’s entire displaced population of 1.6 million right now.
“For them, the suffering of the war that ended two years ago remains a daily battle for survival,” said Rishana Haniffa, the Iraq Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. “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.”
About 138,000 houses were damaged or destroyed in the city during the conflict. In West Mosul alone, there are still more than 53,000 houses flattened and thousands more damaged. Many displaced families have run out of savings and are in debt, surviving on humanitarian aid. Only 4 per cent of them said they intended to return this year.
The loss of ID cards, birth certificates and other essential documentation also remains one of the main blockers for thousands of families wanting to return. Without official documents proving their legal identity, displaced Iraqis are deprived of their most basic rights as Iraqi citizens, unable to move freely and barred from property ownership and employment.
“We urge the Iraqi government and the international community to step up reconstruction work so that Iraqis can return to their homes,” Haniffa said. “But in the meantime, the authorities can immediately help these families make a giant leap forward by issuing them with their missing documentation that would allow them to plan their return in dignity.”
In the last two years, NRC has repaired and rebuilt houses for more than 5,200 people in Mosul. Through NRC’s legal assistance programme in the area, we supported more than 6,000 undocumented people to obtain or retrieve civil documents, but the absence of political will and the lack of resources allocated by the government make the process extremely long and cumbersome, blocking them from returning and piecing together their families and communities in the city.