Children play at a displaced camp in the province of Sulaimani. The displaced people from the disputed areas, including from Kirkuk have sought shelter in the Kurdistan Region. Photo: Rudaw TV
UNITED NATIONS – More than 181,000 people who fled their homes as a result of fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in disputed areas in mid-October remain displaced, the United Nations stated on Thursday.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that most of the displaced are from the cities of Kirkuk and Daquq in the province of Kirkuk, and Tuz Khurmatu in Saladin province.
According to Kurdish officials and international rights organizations, Khurmatu, southeast of Kirkuk, experienced the worst fighting when Iraqi forces, supported by the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, took control of the city on October 16.
At least 10 people were killed and many more injured. Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker Aram Shiekh Mohammed, a Kurd, among other officials, has called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to deploy special forces of the Iraqi army to replace the Hashd forces present in the city.
The UN’s Dujarric said that more than 172,000 people who were displaced have since returned to their homes.
Kirkuk Provincial Council is expected to hold its first session on Tuesday since the Kirkuk crisis. Its acting head, Rebwar Talabani, told Rudaw on Friday night that the first priority is to discuss ways to return normality to Kirkuk, “like it was before October 16.”
He said that the Iraqi army and the Hashd fighters have to leave Kirkuk and let local security forces take charge. Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service remains in charge of the security in Kirkuk, he explained.