There is cellphone reception now in the border area, whereas there had been none two months ago, and “around 4,500 families have returned” to al-Qaim, the leader of the local Popular Mobilization Units Liwa Aaly al-Furat, Col. Moussa al-Karbouly, told Al-Monitor in an interview.
However, he noted, “There is still no running water or electricity” there two months after it was retaken, and the “facts that the 2018 budget has not yet been approved and that there are not enough funds after fighting IS” are affecting the situation negatively.
Both the governor and the head of the provincial police said that generators and fuel had been sent to the city but that more time and funds were necessary.
Karbouly added that local families living in camps in Ramadi, Erbil or other towns were being brought back to the city two days a week and that those living in informal camps to the north or south of the city were being brought back four days a week in buses.
Liwa Aaly al-Furat is currently involved, alongside Danish Special Forces that trained them, in clearing homes of improvised explosive devices so that more families can return.
Karbouly noted that there was a real impediment to elections in May, as all civilians are not yet back in their homes, especially since “the politicians in the region are determined for them to be held.”