ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Internally displaced Iraqi students are filling schools in the Kurdistan Region and the number is increasing. Their families have said they aren't willing to return to destroyed homes in places like Saladin and Falluja.
“In the name of Iraqi IDPs I thank the people and the KRG. I thank the education minister and Erbil education directorate for their incredible facilities. These attitudes are kind and won't be forgotten," said Abdulmujib Naif, a representative from the Iraqi Ministry of Education.
The Kurdistan Region offers elementary and primary school curricula in Kurdish and in Arabic for IDPs. In Erbil, the number of Arabic enrollees this school year is at 75,000. It is expected to rise to 90,000.
“I'm talking about myself, my home is destroyed, and I took my home to Saladin. They forced people to return. The government hasn’t resolved the situation, how could we return? I would say conscience is dead within Iraqi leaders," said Sattar Jumail, a teacher from Falluja.
Authorities in Erbil have seen thousands of enrollees per day as the school year kicks off.
Some claim Baghdad will freeze the salaries of families who do not return to their southern homelands.
“This is a bad situation. We Iraqis are always facing such situations. Wherever we go it's all the same. We were refugees in Turkey, we are the same in Erbil, too," said Mohammed Qasim, a student.
the closure of 416 schools in the Kurdistan Region for IDPs in August — some in camps and some in the host community.
"Our homes are destroyed, where to go now? They don’t allow us in Shingal, no one is there. They neither take us back to our homes nor do they resolve the situation. Where shall we go?" added Qasim.
The Kurdistan Region continues to host 1,476,183 IDPs and refugees (registered and unregistered), according to the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Its population is just more than 5.1 million.
The KRG, which is willing to continue to host IDPs and refugees until conditions are proper, has warned
that a lack of funding by Baghdad and the international community threatens to undermine their efforts and could lead to a humanitarian disaster.