Displacement Crisis in Iraq

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Publish Date : 11/14/2015 13:42
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Displacement Crisis in Iraq
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Displacement and homelessness in Iraq is not limited to the recent years and especially with the start of the internal conflict.

Due to its strategic and unique economic, social and religious conditions, Iraq has always been a theatre of violence and conflict.
Over the last decades, and with the end to the Ottoman Empire and Britain's entrance into domestic and international politics, the discovery of oil and the country's independence, Iraq has a vast oil reserve, but nonetheless the country has been stricken with tension and conflict. The result of this political instability can be clearly seen in the displacement and homelessness of millions of Iraqis. Iraq has always been host to refugees and even migrants from neighbouring countries too, which is as a result of the unique cultural position of the country. The extensive ethnic and religious diversity in Iraq in comparison with its neighbours, itself has caused the displacement of people in various periods in the past and present.
With the coming to power of the Baath Party in 1968 as an Arab nationalist party, Sunni and extremist, the social situation of Iraq was turned upside down and pressures on ethnic minorities such as the Kurds – who always claimed a part of Iraq as their own country – increased. The secular and nationalist Baathist regime brutally cracked down on Shia movements throughout its reign in Iraq. With Saddam Hussein coming into power the violence and pressures on the Shia majority and Kurdish minority increased, and forced thousands of Iraqis to migrate to other countries, to an extent that in the last forty years and the start of the Iraq-Iran war millions of Iraqis left the country. Saddam’s fight with the Kurds between 1980 and 1988, the occupation of Kuwait, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein, are all causes of the displacement and homelessness of thousands of Iraqis and their being scattered all around the world.
According to UN figures, in April 2007, four million Iraqis left Iraq and moved to several countries; 1.3 million were forced to leave their homes, two million found homes in the Middle East and 200,000 found homes in the west.
The number of Iraqi refugees till the start of the conflict in Syria was the largest number in the world. In fact the Iraqi refugee population is higher than the number of post 1948 war Palestinian refugee population. The majority of Iraqi refugees who are in neighbouring countries do not have refugees rights, because in most of these countries, the hosts look upon the refugees as guests that one day will leave their countries. According to UNHCR figures, the conditions of these refugees in Egypt and Turkey is worse than in other countries. Before the outbreak of conflict in Syria, this country was a suitable destination for the large number of Iraqi refugees, but the bad conditions of Syria over the recent years, has forced these guests to return to Iraq. Most of these Iraqis do not even deem Iraq as their country, and have returned to the country in a state of hopelessness and fear, who do not feel safe nor do they see it as their homeland.
With the continuation of the current conflict against ISIS in Iraq, the majority of the residents of provinces affected by conflict have been forced from their homes and towns, and are sheltered in camps set up around Baghdad and other safe cities by the Red Crescent and the United Nations. Currently 1 million Iraqis are internally displaced. The threat of bombings and killings puts the lives of these people in danger. Under such insecure and frightening conditions, other fundamental shortages and shortfalls do not catch the eye. Shortage of clean drinking water, food, education facilities have caused numerous mental and physical problems for the members of the families of these displaced people in these tents.
The may years prolonged war and violence in Iraw and Syria has made the term “home” an alien term for many of Iraqi and Syrian children, children who have been born to homelessness and displacement, and their only know moving from one town to another with backpacks on their backs.
These children are the inheritors of the future of the Middle East, and are currently living in war and displacement, and are witness to the most difficult times of human history unfolding in front of their eyes.

Zahra Mirabian
Political science expert


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