The 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi Army and local groups provide security in Shingal on June 1, 2017. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – More than 200 journalists and civil activists in Shingal have demanded the closure of the Iraqi federal government’s office in the city, alleging it has failed to provide services and does not work in the interests of the war ravaged region.
Some 13,000 Yezidi families have returned to their homes in Shingal since its liberation from Islamic State (ISIS) rule. Many complain of chronic service shortages.
Eighty percent of the city was damaged in the battle to defeat the jihadists.
The acting mayor of Shingal, Farhad Hamid, said: “Those running the Council of Ministers office do not work for the interests of the Shingal people.”
Government employees are not from Shingal, he says. As a result, they lack basic knowledge about its people and the region.
The Iraqi government’s office was opened three months ago at the request of residents and local authorities.
Shingal is a disputed territory and home to a substantial Yezidi community. It was seized by ISIS in 2014 following a Peshmerga retreat, but was later liberated.
Shingal saw heinous ISIS atrocities. Militants abducted thousands of Yezidis, forcing the women into sexual slavery and slaughtering the men.
Saed Batush, a civil activist, told Rudaw the Iraqi government office does not give the people of Shingal a voice in Baghdad.
“The office has just become a place for them to take pictures and eat in it,” he claimed.
“Unfortunately, they are not at the level we want. They have no experience,” Batush added.
Life is tough for the families who have returned to Shingal, living without healthcare or schools more than two years after ISIS was routed.
Walid Umer, head of the Council of Ministers’ office, rejected the claims, insisting his staff provide many projects to serve Shingal in terms of reconstruction.
“Maybe they are not dissatisfied with service projects carried out in this area. It is clear that the situation in terms of education and services is not good,” he admitted.
But “the whole Iraq is suffering from this situation,” he said.
“Despite shortcomings, our work is going very well here. We are working to pass the current difficult time,” he added.
Khonaf Hajji, a resident of Shingal, told Rudaw: “By God, life here is difficult – no gas, no doctor. When we go to the hospital, there is nothing. By God’s name, whenever we go there and get an injection we do not find it. There are no teachers. Our children go to schools but there are no teachers.”
Another returnee, Kheri Shivan, said: “By God there are no doctors, no streets, no water, no gas. There is not even one clinic here. There is no one for injections. There is no medicine. There is nothing here. Services are zero.”
Iraq has estimated national reconstruction will cost $100 billion.