Restrictions on IDPs Worsen Shiite-Sunni Divide

By Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Restrictions on Iraq’s displaced people worsen Shiite-Sunni divide

Shiite Turkmen who fled Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL) beheadings in northwestern cities have traveled several hundred kilometers to places of pilgrimage and camps in southern and central Iraq.

Sunni Arabs relatively close to the capital are instead being refused entry to Baghdad and go north, conditions allowing, though many are subsequently barred from the larger cities in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

In the Laylan camp for internally displaced persons (IDP), just southeast of Kirkuk in one of Iraq’s disputed territories, one Sunni family from Muqdadiyah recounts being shelled by government forces and having relatives “disappeared” by Shiite militias.

Four of the children were killed by Iraqi government airstrikes in the fall of 2014, their father told Al-Monitor, and shrapnel is still embedded in his remaining three sons’ bodies. They have not been able to get past checkpoints to reach health care facilities in Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk, despite referrals from other facilities.

Al-Monitor was shown pictures of the family’s mutilated flatbed truck, hit while several children were in the vehicle. The family was forced to wait for six hours along the road by continued bombing, and several of the injured died during that time.

One of the girls in the tent with them, a 7-year-old relative named Nour, does not have ID papers. “Her father had them with him when he stayed behind to bury the bodies” of the relatives who had died of wounds from the airstrikes, said one man. “He was later taken by the Shiite militias along the road,” he explained, rattling off the names of various groups within the Popular Mobilization Units active in the area.

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