Why aren’t Mosul Residents Returning to Liberated Areas?

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

The Ministry of Displacement and Migration announced March 20 that the number of residents displaced from Mosul has risen to 355,000 since the start of the liberation in October 2016, with the number set to increase. Meanwhile, only 81,000 displaced residents have returned to liberated areas.

People are increasingly flocking to the Directorate of the National Security Service in the Bartala area in eastern Mosul to obtain security permits to travel or flee to other Iraqi provinces. Such permits prove to a certain point that their holders are not members of the Islamic State (IS) and do not work with it.

“Between 1,000 and 1,500 permits were being issued on a daily basis in January 2017 to citizens of the [eastern Mosul] areas, including large numbers of employees,” a security source from the Mosul Security Directorate told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

During the years of IS control, most of the Mosul population opted to stay in their homes to show resistance against IS. Some residents even described those who left the city as “weak.” However, they now seek to escape as soon as the chance arises.

Ferial al-Mosuli, the director of a secondary school for girls, opted to stay in Mosul to prevent IS from seizing her house. “Many more people left Mosul after the liberation than during IS’ occupation because of the lack of clean water and electricity.”

Mosuli added, “We do not have enough teachers; most of them are still in [Kurdistan], and only 65 students are left in our school out of 700.”

Some of the Mosul residents who lived in areas that are now liberated have chosen not to return to these areas, especially those working in the health and education fields, as they settled with their families in Kurdistan, Baghdad or outside Iraq.

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