Ramadi’s Displaced find Restrictions, not Refuge, in Baghdad
While the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL) managed to occupy most of Anbar province and to raise its flags over the local government buildings in Ramadi on May 17, Iraqis blamed each other for the defeat.
During a time requiring national unity, the Iraqi political scene is once again witnessing its downfall through internal rifts. In the meantime, the humanitarian aspect of these events, i.e., the arrival of tens of thousands of displaced people from Anbar to Baghdad, did not get the attention it deserved.
The unsurprising fall of Ramadi was one of the calamities faced by the authorities with confusion and general lack of awareness. On April 19, thousands of people from Ramadi and the surrounding areas were displaced to Baghdad.
According to a UNHCR statement published April 21, the number of displaced from Ramadi reached 114,000. The government’s position was surprising: They assured the displaced people that Baghdad is not under any threat, and rather blamed them for leaving and raised suspicions surrounding them doing so.
One month after this displacement, Ramadi fell into the hands of IS. Most of its residents had left and thousands more left during its fall.
Sheikh Aref al-Dulaimi, a prominent tribal figure from Ramadi, told Al-Monitor that the security services inevitably knew what the people knew, which is that IS had been transferring fighters and weapons for two months into areas under its control in Qaim, Tharthar and the area around Fallujah, as well as the towns of Hit, Anah, Rawa and Ratba.
Dulaimi, who also fled Ramadi, said, “As we crossed Bzebez point on our way to Baghdad, we were accused of dealing with IS. Yet we escaped inevitable death by the hands of IS.”