Hundreds of Kurdish families who fled Khanaqin when the Iraqi army took control of the disputed areas in October 2017 have still not returned home.
“Sometimes we go to Kalar,” an hour drive north of Khanaqin, “but we can’t go further,” said Adnan Mansour, former head of the Article 140 commission.
He claimed that Arab settlers have returned to Khanaqin, with facilitation from the Iraqi army.
“Unfortunately the Iraqi forces with the municipality of Diyala and Baghdad have let 57 families, who are not from Khanaqin, settle in the city,” said Samir Nour, head of Khanaqin city council.
The change in the population has meant the closure of some Kurdish-language schools.
Local education officials are waiting for an official investigation into the trend, but they are worried.
“We think that it is a step against people and to reduce the number or close Kurdish schools. They may want to push the students away from Kurdish studies,” said Dara Hamid, director general of the Garmiyan education board.
Federal forces took control of the disputed areas – lands claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad – in the weeks after the Kurdistan vote for independence. There are reports of a revival of the Baathist-era Arabization policy under the authority of the new administration installed after October 2017.
Reporting by Hallo Mohammed