ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Families displaced from Tuz Khurmatu are closely watching events in their hometown, waiting for the situation to improve so they can feel safe enough to go home.
Of some 8,000 Tuz Khurmatu families living in camps within the Garmiyan administration, about half have returned. In Taza Dey camp, only 45 families out of 262 have returned.
Those who choose to return leave a few of their family members in the camp as a precaution in case they need to flee Tuz Khurmatu again.
“They are still unsure, still afraid, and are yet to settle either here or there,” Bestun Zhalayi, supervisor of humanitarian affairs of Garmiyan, told Rudaw.
Many of Tuz Khurmatu’s Kurdish residents fled the city when it was taken over by the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi last October.
Multiple reports from the United Nations, rights monitors, and Rudaw confirmed deliberate targeting of Kurdish houses and shops.
On January 8, the Iraqi parliament voted to establish a multi-ethnic investigative committee. Members of the committee have been selected, but they are waiting parliamentary approval before beginning work.
Kurdish MPs want the decisions of the committee be binding, not a mere investigation.
For the residents who are still living in camps, they give several reasons for being afraid to go home.
Some cite fears of armed groups operating near the town, including one believed to be ISIS militants, and others are concerned about the large number of Iraqi forces in the city.
“If we had no fears, why would we make ourselves unhappy by being homeless like this?” Leila Hussein Qadir, a Khurmatu citizen, told Rudaw.