Shingal (Sinjar) officials and IDPs: Lift security measures to urge returnees

Ninewa, 2022: Iraqi army checkpoint in Sinuny subdistrict of Shingal district. KirkukNow

By Ammar Aziz

Shingalis and local officials of the district are concerned security permission and other measures for the return of the Internally Displaced Persons IDP hinders the process, demanding these measures to be lifted.

According to KirkukNow follow up, in recent weeks, a number of Ezidi (Yazidi) families have been prevented from returning to their homes in Shingal at the Hay Tubal checkpoint, on the grounds of lack of security permits.

The checkpoint is located between Rabia and Sinuny subdistrict of Shingal district in western Ninewa.

“Any IDP family who wants to return must have a letter from the mayor and the immigration office to be sent by post to the Western Ninewa Operations Command, where they will be verified in a long process and approved into an electronic database to all security checkpoints order to be allowed to pass,” said Khudeda Chuki, acting governor of Sinuny subdistrict.

There are people who have waited 10 to 30 days to get security clearances

The security inspection of Shingal citizens is being conducted by the operations in western Ninewa to determine whether they have links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS.

"I challenge you to say that no Ezidi has joined ISIS thus these procedures are not necessary," Chuki told KirkukNow.

"There are people who wanted to return and waited more than 10 days to a month for security clearance from the army. In addition, at checkpoints, some of them stay in the sun for up to 10 hours until other procedures are completed," he added.

Shingal, 120 km west of Mosul, a disputed area in Ninewa province, was captured by ISIS on August 3, 2014, where thousands of people were killed, kidnapped and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

There are more than eight different armed forces in Shingal, some of which are part of the Western Ninewa Operations Command, the main force is the Iraqi army.

In the Ezidi-dominant region of Shingal, only three thousand square kilometers, Baghdad federal and Erbil regional governments compete to establish their rule: three local administrations want to administer the district, and eight different armed groups are deployed.

The militant groups are PMF, Shingal Resistance Units YBS (YBSh) and Ezidkhan Asayish which are pro-PKK, federal and local Police, Iraqi army and the Kurdistan Regional Government's KRG Peshmerga.

Duhok, 2019: Kabartoo IDP camp where the majority of the population are Ezidis. Ammar Aziz

Saad Qasim, spokesman for the 20th Brigade of the Iraqi army in Shingal, told KirkukNow: “Every family needs a security permit to return."

He also explained that they are facilitating the work of the citizens at the checkpoints and their goal is for the IDPs to return.

There are more than 600,000 IDP in the Kurdistan Region, some of whom are living in 26 camps, 30% of them are Ezidis.

Hamid Micho, who has returned from displacement to Siba Sheikh Khidir community in Shingal, said there are obstacles to returning at checkpoints due to the complicated measures.

Siba Sheikh Khidir community belongs to the district of Shingal and before ISIS there were more than 8,000 families, but so far about 100 families have returned.

Many people have called for the measures to be lifted, but it is still valid

KirkukNow could not get a statement from one of the families who were prevented from returning due to security measures.

"There is no need for security permits. This is just creating problems and discouraging the IDP from returning to their homes, to prevent the return of IDP and facilitate their work." Khudeda Elias, head of the self-governing council in Sinuny subdistrict, told KirkukNow.

The self-governing council was established several years ago by a number of Ezidi, Arab and other communities in Shingal, which are considered close to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting Turkey since 1980s and holds territories in Iraqi Kurdistan region and the disputed territories.

"Any displaced family needs the permission of the commander of operations in western Ninewa to return. This is the instruction of the security agencies and there is no room, although many people have requested it," a police source told Kirkuk Now That measure should be lifted, but it is still the same.”

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