The Iraqi Kurdish government has often joined in the chorus of complaints. However more than one government official has also admitted that the region benefitted from the displaced people working in various businesses.
But there is also no doubt that the newcomers became an important part of the economy over the past three years. Some Arabs started their own businesses in Iraqi Kurdistan, others simply spent the money they had on local goods and services.
Many, like the families Rahim was employing, were desperate and willing to work for far lower wages than locals. In fact, this became another problem as locals said that Arabs were taking their jobs away.
One of the sectors that really benefitted from this was the agricultural one. In Iraqi Kurdistan sheep farming involves taking the sheep out to pasture in the summer or feeding them in the winter and cleaning their stalls daily until they are sold. And the displaced Arabs willing to do this work brought life back to some villages.
“When the displaced people came, I moved back to my village,” explains another local, Hassan Karaman; the farmer is 70 and he had been forced to move from his village in the Bawa Nour district to the city with his children because he was too old to look after his sheep. “But I don’t like to live in the city. I prefer to live on my land.”