Iraq’s camp closures force residents into homelessness: HRW

Displaced Iraqi people are seen at the Amriyat al Fallujah camp in Anbar Province, Iraq. January 3, 2018. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday the closure of camps housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) is forcing some residents into homelessness and poverty, as the federal government has begun to shut down a number of camps in the country.

The London-based rights group said in a report that Iraqi authorities should not force camp residents out without ensuring they have alternative access to shelter, food, water, health care, and other basic services in a safe and secure environment.

In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi formed a committee with the mandate to close nearly 17 camps, which houses at least 60,337 people.

Iraqi authorities have closed 11 camps since then, according to the organization.

“Reintegrating families who have spent years in camps back into Iraqi society so they can start to lead a normal life is a positive step.” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“But the current approach of forcing people out of camps that have provided them with food, shelter, and security for years, often with only 24 hours’ notice, makes them even more vulnerable,” Wille added.

The HRW said the federal government should guarantee to the individual and family social and health security and the basic requirements for living a free and decent life.

Baghdad should also secure for the displaced people suitable income and appropriate housing, it added.

“While the aim of this push to close camps seems to be to improve stability across the country, stripping people of the only access they have to shelter, food, and water and sending thousands into further displacement will actually have the opposite effect,” Wille said.

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